Tech Crawl at The National Aquarium

Last night Paul and I went to a tech crawl hosted by gb.tc (formerly the Greater Baltimore Technology Council). I believe this is the second tech crawl they’ve hosted. The first one was at Camden Yards. This particular tech crawl was a behind the scenes look at the National Aquarium, which is here in Baltimore. They had a bar and some hors d’oevres and there was time for mingling with other people before and after the tour. I got to meet some people in person that I’ve only know via Twitter up until this point so that was fun.

The tour itself really focused on the new Blacktip Reef exhibit, which just opened about a month ago. If you’ve been to the aquarium before the new exhibit is in the main viewing area on the first level where the Ray Tray used to be and then they built a large viewing window underneath so that you can now go down an additional level and see into the handmade reef. It’s very cool.

The tour was limited to I believe 80 people and then they had us split into 3 or 4 groups so we really got to get up close to things without the normal mayhem of all the people and kids that are usually in the aquarium. In addition, to some really extensive information about the exhibit itself and how it was built we got to see some behind the scenes stuff regarding how it is run and maintained.

They have a new 6 panel screen showing a video leading into the exhibit. They told us about the reasoning behind the video itself, about the screens that it runs on, and the sound system which actually has sensors to adjust the volume based on the number of people in the area which is pretty nifty. We also got a peek at the server rack where it’s all controlled from. Ooooh server rack. Looks like any other server rack. Could have been my basement, except with fancier equipment.

We also got to see in the pump room that has all the stuff that keeps the tanks in the aquarium running. I unfortunately can’t remember the guy’s name or his actual position title though he basically oversees all the staff that take care of the animals, but he gave us a very interesting talk about how all the equipment works and the systems they have developed at the aquarium to keep the tanks functioning while also being able to conserve water. It was a lot of really interesting information and nothing I would have gotten just on a regular trip to the aquarium.

You can actually watch a live cam of the Blacktip Reef exhibit here if you want.

Or you can take a look at my pictures of the fish (and a turtle) and some assorted things that keep the fish alive. Though there are a ton of Blacktip sharks in the exhibit somehow I didn’t snap any really good pictures of them. Go figure.

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