Sneak peek at Cal Academy's new 'Twilight Zone' exhibit in San Francisco

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Get ready for a trip to the twilight zone - that's a spectacular part of the ocean rarely seen by people. And it's now featured in a first-of-its-kind exhibit in Golden Gate Park. The exhibit opens on Friday, but ABC7 News got an early look! (KGO-TV)

Get ready for a trip to the Twilight Zone - that is a spectacular part of the ocean rarely seen by people. And it's now featured in a first-of-its-kind exhibit in Golden Gate Park. The exhibit opens on Friday, but ABC7 News got an early look.


Coral polyps, tiny animals, are being projected on a 12 foot wall using micro time-lapse video.

Crews are still tweaking. But by the time you get there, the new exhibit, "Twilight Zone: Deep Reefs Revealed" at the California Academy of Sciences, will be ready to wow.

"It's truly one of the most beautiful things we've ever done here," said Scott Moran with Cal Academy exhibit development.

The main focus is what's known as the Twilight Zone, the band of ocean that ranges from 200 to 500 feet deep. That's too deep for conventional scuba diving, but not as deep as areas studied with remote control submersibles.

Only a few scientists dare to dive there. Bart Shepherd, senior director of the Steinhart Aquarium, is one of them.

RELATED: Bay Area scientists explore area known as the Twilight Zone

"These are some of the most unexplored and unknown ecosystems on our planet," he said. "In fact, we know more about the surface of the moon than we do about these parts of the ocean."

Academy divers have been doing twilight zone research in the Philippines and Vanuatu for the past year and a half. The exhibit team is assembling the 200 pounds of equipment required to survive in such deep water, so you can see for yourself what it takes.

The divers also brought back living treasures to display in San Francisco.

"People will see some of these animals for the first time ever," said Shepherd.

Like weird creatures that are a rare type of "comb jelly."


"They put out these long strands that are sticky and they use those to catch plankton," said Shepherd.

Fish for the exhibit were brought up in a special chamber that allows them to decompress at the surface. Once they arrive at the Cal Academy, they're held in a quarantine tank for a month. Finally, it's moving day.

The parade of precious animals moved out in not-so-fancy containers to their new home in the Twilight Zone exhibit. It all happened fast, but every step was carefully planned by expert biologists. One guy is already a staff favorite.

"It doesn't really have a common name," said Shepherd. "We were jokingly calling it the super freaking mind blowing rainbow fish."

The exhibit also features high tech interactive exhibits simulating scientific scuba dives and showing how some creatures use light to communicate; all part of a dazzling display of the diversity of the deep.

The Twilight Zone exhibit opens Friday at the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. Click here for details on this new exhibit.

Written and produced by Jennifer Olney.
Related Topics:
sciencemuseumsmuseum exhibitfishanimalanimal newsSan FranciscoCalifornia Academy of Sciences
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