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Georgia Aquarium Announces Arrival of Three Beluga Whales

Atlanta, GA (November 7, 2005) – Marina, Natasha and Maris, three female beluga whales, arrived safely at the Georgia Aquarium early Monday morning, November 7, 2005. The beluga whales are becoming accustomed to their new surroundings and the media will be invited for their first view as soon as possible. The three beluga whales are on a breeding loan from the Wildlife Conservation Society's New York Aquarium. They will join Nico and Gasper who came from a Mexico City amusement park outdoor exhibit. In their new home at the Georgia Aquarium, the belugas whales will enjoy an 800,000 gallon state-of-the-art habitat designed to simulate their natural environment. Two UPS cargo jets flew Marina, Natasha and Maris to Atlanta. UPS donated this service to the Georgia Aquarium. Previously, UPS had flown the Mexico City beluga whales and Ralph and Norton, the Aquarium's two whale sharks, from Taiwan in June. Ralph and Norton are doing well in their 6.2 million gallon habitat. Bernie Marcus, benefactor of the Georgia Aquarium, which opens November 23, 2005, said that, "we are excited about the arrival of the New York girls. We hope they enjoy the company of the boys from Mexico City and we soon have baby beluga whales." Annual Passes to the Georgia Aquarium are on sale now and as of the time of this alert, more than 50,000 people have purchased their membership. November 21 and 22 are sneak-peak days exclusively reserved for Aquarium members. Grand Opening to the general public is November 23, 2005. ABOUT BELUGA WHALES Beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) are gregarious animals that are entirely found in arctic and sub-arctic waters. There are between 125,000 and 197,000 beluga whales in North American waters today. An adult beluga whale can grow to 15 feet in length, and weigh up to 3,300 pounds. Beluga whales become white as adults; they have teeth and a single blowhole. They are called the "canary of the sea" for the sounds they make, which can be heard above the water. As with all marine animals, they are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. They are not listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. There are currently 34 beluga whales in a breeding alliance in aquariums and parks in North America today. ABOUT THE BELUGA WHALES FROM MEXICO CITY Two male beluga whales resided at the La Feria amusement park in Mexico City. Named Nico and Gasper, they are about 15 years old and 11 feet long. Their previous home was next to a rollercoaster and busy road. Both beluga whales arrived at the Georgia Aquarium on October 17, 2005. ABOUT THE GEORGIA AQUARIUM BELUGA WHALE HABITAT The Georgia Aquarium is the newest aquarium facility in the world with an 800,000 gallon state-of-the-art beluga whale habitat. The facility is specially designed to provide an enriched environment for the beluga whales that simulates their natural environment. Because belugas whales live in cold water environments the water will be kept at 55 degrees Fahrenheit or about 13 degrees Celsius. The general public, student groups and private functions each have their own views into the beluga whale habitat. For information contact: Donna Fleishman Georgia Aquarium 770 241 8252 dfleishman@fletchermartin.com ABOUT THE GEORGIA AQUARIUM The Georgia Aquarium will open in Atlanta, Georgia on November 23, 2005, as one of the world's largest aquarium facilities. With more than 8 million gallons of marine and fresh water, and more than 100,000 animals of 500 different species, the Georgia Aquarium is a gift to the people of Georgia from Bernie Marcus, co-founder of The Home Depot, and his wife Billi, through the Marcus Foundation. The Aquarium will be overseen by a nonprofit corporation run by a board of directors. The mission of the Georgia Aquarium is to be an entertaining, educational and scientific institution featuring exhibitions and programs of the highest standards, offering engaging and entertaining visitors' experiences, and promoting the conservation of aquatic biodiversity throughout the world. Additional information on the Georgia Aquarium can be found at www.georgiaaquarium.org.

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