A dedication ceremony for the aquarium is scheduled for Oct. 21 from 6-8 p.m. and will call attention to a $250,000 grant from the Fulton Owen Foundation, which made the purchase and operation of the tank possible.
Staff and volunteers are ready to show off the exhibit to the public, after working to install the tank and prep and introduce the fish to their new habitat.
"(The tank) is a great opportunity to highlight the ecology of the Pocomoke River and the unique fish that live in it," says Executive Director Brian Garrett. "We just want to recognize their generous donation and acknowledge the positive impact it's having on the discovery center."
The ceremony will include a speech by Garrett, in addition to a presentation of the tank, acknowledgment of the donors, a short speech by representatives of the Snow Hill-based Fulton Owen Foundation and a casual reception.
The tank is designed to look similar to the underwater world of the Pocomoke River and has been stocked with native fish, including Atlantic sturgeon, largemouth bass, channel catfish and bluegills.
Garrett expects the tank to increase learning opportunities for area residents as well as the attractiveness of Pocomoke City as a regional tourist destination.
"For this summer, between June 1 and the end of August, we had 3,600 general admissions," said Garrett. "We are on pace to put between 7,500 and 8,000 through the center this year."
After the ceremony has ended, staff at the Discovery Center are expected to get to work on their next big project. The University of Maryland Eastern Shore recently donated a 1,500 gallon tank for a Chesapeake Bay ecological exhibit.
Garrett says before moving forward on that, the Discovery Center needs to secure additional funding, to ensure once the tank is installed there will be enough money to keep it operational and allow for the care of marine life.