Lifeless Gulf of Mexico exhibit draws national attention - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Lifeless Gulf of Mexico exhibit draws national attention

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- Oil continues to flow into the Gulf of Mexico at a rate of 1.7 million gallons per day. More than 400 different species of animals living in the gulf are affected. Here in Eastern Iowa, thousands of miles from the Gulf Coast, it's hard to understand how this spill effects the ocean.

In just a few days the Diamond Jo National River Center will open it's doors. The museum was supposed to feature an entire exhibit on the Gulf of Mexico. Now you'll still find an exhibit on the gulf, but it's going to be a bit messy.  It's one that drawing national attention.

Thursday afternoon, the fish were ready.

"We have nurse sharks, we have green mora eels. We have very large sting rays," Museum Executive Director Jerry Enzler said.

The fish were waiting in special tanks in the basement of the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium. Beginning Saturday, they were supposed to travel to new home inside Gulf of Mexico tanks at the National River Center.

"Our original concept for the Gulf of Mexico tank was to build a stunning depiction of the biological diversity of the Gulf of Mexico," Enzler said.

But the fish and sharks will have to wait. In fact, All museum goers will find come Saturday: a lifeless tank.

"When we heard and saw the tragedy unfolding the gulf we realized that there's a bigger story here and that it really shouldn't be just business as usual," Enzler said.

A few days before opening their doors, Enzler and staff decided to turn this exhibit into a life-like interpretation of the current oil filled gulf.

"Even the coral reef which you see depicted on the bottom of the tank is about to be covered in oil," Enzler said.

They aren't pouring oil in the fresh water. And, no, it won't hurt any fish. Instead this lifeless Gulf will give Iowans a perspective.

"It puts you in the location where the fish are dying the oil," Enzler said.

Visitors learn what life is really like down in the Gulf.

"Not historically but as it's happening right now," Enzler said.

The Lifeless Gulf will be on display for four weeks. This is the only Gulf of Mexico aquarium opening in the world this year. Enzler says they felt an obligation to educate people well as remember those who lost their lives in the original explosion. And the thousands of fish and animals who have died.

They hope to inspire people to take action, whether it's donating their time or their money to helping clean up. It's all because of, what they're calling, a national disaster.

The National River Center opens it's doors at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday June 26th.

Online Reporter: Lauren Squires

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