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BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – It’s a unique way to experience sea life without having to go to the beach. The Brevard Zoo is featuring sand sculptures that’s bringing awareness to a campaign to build an aquarium in the county.
“You don’t have to take even a step into the ocean to get a really beautiful view of some of the incredible creatures you can find in our ocean,” Brevard Zoo Communications Manager Lauren Delgado said.
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The Brevard Zoo is featuring a unique exhibit called Life Beneath Our Sea. Twelve large sand sculptures create a trail throughout the zoo, capturing the attention of adults and children alike.
Everything from exotic fish and sea turtles to manatees.
It took 500 tons of sand to create the exhibit, according to exhibit coordinator Jill Harris.
Harris is the owner of Sandsational Sand Sculpting out of Melbourne, Florida.
“There’s a lot of planning that goes into it ahead of time,” Harris said. “There’s a lot that people don’t see behind the scenes, heavy machines moving sand. It looks like a construction zone at first. Then we have to compact all the sand before we start sculpting.”
Local artists from Sandsational Sand Sculpting partnered with artists from as far as the Netherlands to make the sand sculptures come to life. The exhibit took about a month to create.
“We had seven different sculptures out there and each sculpture had an assignment. For example, one assignment was ‘creatures of the deep.’ Animals you’d find deep, deep in the ocean. From there you start doing your homework, you look for images, talk to people who know about it. All of this before we even start sculpting,” Harris said.
The manatee sculpture has plastic bottle caps and trash on the bottom. Harris said the items were actually found in the Indian River Lagoon, bringing awareness to the issue of littering in local waterways.
News 6 asked, ‘Through storms, how do the sculptures stay put?’
“Sand that we use, we get from Winter Haven and it’s ‘sandy sand.’ It doesn’t have a lot of silver clay naturally in it, so when it rains, the water drains through it. The whole thing is so compact, it won’t just fall on its own. It’s only being held up with sand and water,” Harris said.
The sand sculptures also represent the future of the Brevard Zoo with the Aquarium Project and continued conservation initiatives.
“Such as our sea turtle healing center, we have a location here at the zoo but we want to expand it give people a look at the incredible work we do to help our sea turtles. We are raising money now for the aquarium. We have our site picked out, so now it’s just about us continuing to raise money and inspire people,” Delgado said.
Their vision is to build an $85 million aquarium in Port Canaveral. The aquarium would include an Indian River Lagoon Conservation Campus with research facilities, restaurants, event spaces and outdoor recreation. More than a third of the cost has already been raised and the zoo hopes to break ground within the next three years.
As for the sand sculptures, they’ll be on display through April and the exhibit is included with your Zoo admission.
If you haven’t been to the Brevard Zoo lately, you’ll notice some new features including bear dens that were built to encourage the bears to hibernate like they would in the wild and progress is being made on the new lion exhibit.
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Crystal Moyer is a multimedia journalist who joined the News 6 team in February 2020. Crystal comes to Central Florida from WKMG’s sister station, WJXT in Jacksonville, where she worked as a traffic anchor and MMJ.
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