Open 9 am - 6 pm
A photo of Shedd Aquarium's new special exhibit, Underwater Beauty, featuring a winding corridor of habitats interspersed with digital and physical interactive experiences.

Underwater Beauty

Enter a world of shimmer, color, pattern and rhythm, where jellies pulse, eels ribbon and a rainbow comes alive with reef fishes in the aquarium’s most diverse special exhibit ever. Underwater Beauty shows how every aquatic animal is beautifully adapted to thrive in its environment—and how this beauty is worth saving.

A group of orange anthias swim together in a rocky habitat. Their sharply forked tails and bright orange fins and bodies make for a beautiful shimmering effect as they swim closely grouped together.
Visitors to Shedd's Underwater Beauty Special Exhibit hunker down to peer into a spherical habitat with "floating" rocks.

What is beauty?

From angels to dragons, the weird to the unexpected, every aquatic animal is beautiful in how it’s adapted to thrive in its environment. Skeleton shrimp wiggle and wobble their bodies like they’re dancing, but they’re really catching a passing meal. Flower hat jellies have added fluorescence to the tips of their stinging tentacles, which bob like plankton in the current, fooling hungry fishes into coming within striking distance.

Live cam

Need to recharge? Take a break for beauty with our Underwater Beauty live cam! Discover the dreamlike patterns of angelfishes, wrasses, tangs and butterflyfishes.

An artist stands on a fold-out ladder as he paints a colorful desptiction of a stylized mantis shrimp for Shedd's Underwater Beauty mural project on the side of a building in Chicago.

Underwater Beauty neighborhood murals

Dive into a world of beauty worth saving with street art across Chicago, from Edgewater to Bronzeville, all inspired by the diverse animals of Underwater Beauty.

Underwater Beauty Murals Map

Beauty worth saving

Every aquatic animal is beautiful. Each one features colors, patterns and rhythms exquisitely evolved for surviving and thriving underwater. The mandarin dragonet, whose toxicity is advertised with swirling psychadelic patterns? Beautiful. The mudpuppy, whose drab skin hides it in plain sight on the muddy lake bottom? Beautiful too!

At Shedd, we want to ensure that all underwater beauty is conserved, protected and treasured because each animal plays a critical role in maintaining the balance and health of its aquatic environment.

How can you help save Underwater Beauty?

 A flower hat Jelly at Shedd Aquarium.

Flowerhat Jelly

White spotted jellies have a small, mushroom-like cap trailed by a large, flaring trumpet-like set of flaring tentacles, with smaller, round-tipped tentacles trailing after.

White-Spotted Jelly

A weedy seadragon floating at Shedd Aquarium.

Weedy Seadragon

A mantis shrimp stands on sand near a rock.

Mantis shrimp

An ochre sea star with 5 arms lies on a rock.

Ochre Sea Star

The longnose hawkfish has a long, pointed nose at the end of its narrow body.

Longnose Hawkfish

A closeup photo of a ribbon eel's head, narrow and with flared flaps on the tip of its narrow nose.

Ribbon Eel