Divers, Turtle wood and Now, Jellyfish

Joey Turner, diver.
Joey Turner of Reef Aquaria Design emerges from a dive in Center’s Reef Aquarium.

As I’m writing, it’s just after ten in the morning on Wednesday.  The Center in the Square Grand Affair, is Saturday evening.  Huge progress came yesterday, but there are still significant hurdles for the aquarium exhibits, and in front of me there are so many workers that Center’s lobby looks like an ant farm.

News Conference
Roanoke Mayor David Bowers addresses the crowd during the news conference announcing the re-opening of Center in the Square.

The Roanoke Times, Channel 7 and Channel 10 had excellent coverage of yesterday’s news conference announcing the re-emergence of Center from its two years of dormancy.  The aquariums received their fair share of of the ink and air time — thanks in part to Joey Turner’s historic first scuba venture into the living reef aquarium.  He dove twice — once to clean the glass, and a second time to plant the corals which will eventually grow and become a dominant feature of the reef.

Ben Carlin, Carlin Aquarium Systems
Ben Carlin of Carlin Aquarium Systems uses a chainsaw to trim a huge piece of driftwood for the Turtle tank.

Overnight the two jellyfish “tubes” arrived.  The cylinders are roughly three feet in diameter and six feet high.  By Saturday crews from RAD and Carlin Aquarium Systems will need to put them in place, attach them to the plumbing/filtration in Center’s basement, fill them with water and then jellyfish.  In the middle of the two jelly tanks, the seahorses are now swimming among the live rock.

Ben Carlin
A wider shot shows the size of the turtle aquarium decoration.

The crew is doing this as 4-5 workers polish the floor with heavy, loud machines and soapy water.  Working around them are the guys tasked with making the exhibit both appealing to the eye and educational in the form of iPads and lighting.  I should mention there are at least half a dozen other random electricians and plumbers working on independent project, not to mention a guy loading the software onto the new ATM machine. Not ideal conditions.

Logperch Aquarium
The Center in the Square Roanoke Logperch aquarium. Just needs water — and fish.

Under the stairs the Roanoke Logperch aquarium is now decorated and mostly plumbed, as is the associated turtle tank.  Yesterday, Ben Carlin took a chainsaw to the massive, but beautiful piece of river wood that occupies the full five foot length of the turtle tank.  It then took six men to lift and carefully guild the wood into place.  It’s safe to say it’s never coming back out.  We hope the turtles and the public appreciate it.

Turtle Tank
A huge piece of driftwood occupies the Turtle Tank.

The good news is that everything is doable.  A few more gorgonians (corals) will be added to the reef tank, but it is essentially complete, and I must say, beautiful beyond my expectations.


1125 East Main St
Salem, VA

(behind Fresh Studio Salon)

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