“It didn’t make sense to keep both exhibits,” said Kenny Alexopoulos, the aquarium’s chief operating officer. “We wanted something from an entirely different part of the world.”

In place of the old Caribbean exhibit, the aquarium is now constructing a new Polynesian attraction that will open in late summer. But officials gave the Tulsa World a sneak peak Wednesday.

When finished, it will include more than 1,400 pieces of hand-made artificial coral and 65,000 gallons of water, making it tied with the sea turtle exhibit as the second largest attraction in the aquarium, behind only the gigantic shark exhibit. Artificial coral, meticulously molded from real coral and painted to look realistic, avoids the need to remove live coral from the ocean, officials said.

Visitors will see more than 500 fish from 75 species, including a colorful zebra shark and a moray eel, which can grow up to 13 feet long, slithering in and out of portals in a “ship wreck” within the exhibit. A massive humphead wrasse, weighing as much as 700 pounds, will be one of the largest fish at the aquarium.

Three totem poles will stand floor-to-ceiling, and a huge wall mural will depict Polynesian scenery, giving the room a bright, cheerful look.

“It’s going to be one of the favorites in the aquarium,” Alexopoulos said, predicting that visitors will come specifically to see the new Polynesian exhibit. “It’s going to be very bright and very colorful, almost a ‘Finding Nemo’ theme.”

For now, however, it remains a cluttered construction site with unfinished walls and wires dangling from the ceiling. Instead of hiring a contractor, the aquarium is using its own staff to build the exhibit, saving tens of thousands of dollars, officials said.

Most importantly, it will compliment rather than repeat what visitors see in the nearby Sea Turtle Island exhibit, which has been drawing crowds since it debuted in March 2017 with reef sharks, tropical fish and two 300-pound loggerhead turtles.

“It’s been a success in every way imaginable,” Alexopoulos said. “And this is going to build on that success even more.”

Beyond the Polynesian display, the aquarium plans to replace its current octopus exhibit with a larger, more modern habitat for the octopus, he said.

Officials declined to provide a cost estimate for the Polynesian exhibit.