‘Eden Reef Exhibit’ comes to life at fishing museum

The Eden Reef Exhibit is the newest attraction at The Destin History and Fishing Museum.

If the garden of Eden was submerged, The Destin History and Fishing Museum can show you what it may have looked like.

The museum unveiled its Eden Reef Exhibit recently to a group of about two dozen special guests.

The three Bass Pro Shops employees who created the newest 3D exhibit in the museum’s always impressive tackle box are Heather Eden, Dave Settoon and Sean Younkin.

The exhibit is colorful and impressive — among the Destin-blue walls painted with lively jellyfish, which artist Eden tells us, "changed a time or too," — the exhibit has an ocean full of other things to look at.

"You don't see it until you see it; there's so much to look it," said Melvin while admiring the reef, that is inside a large glass tank.

Your eyes are first drawn to the large reef where all of the marine life seem to be gathering. It serves as a fishy town square of sorts, with a purple octopus and an enormous barracuda with teeth so sharp that it would make even veteran Weighmaster Bruce Cheves look twice. A number of other fish also loom large, including one big brown fish whose mouth is wide-open and a tiny redfish whose eye is so large it nearly covers his entire body.

In addition to the many different fish you see in the exhibit, hiding toward the bottom you see starfish, sponges and many different, interesting marine plant and animal species.

"We actually used toothpicks for those," said artist and Bass Pro Shops employee Settoon when asked about the hanging, spiky, puffer-fish.

The name of the exhibit was a surprise to everyone, even the artists.

Eden said she was "surprised and honored," when she returned and saw that Melvin and Marler had named the exhibit after her, painting Eden Reef on the small piece of driftwood at the bottom of the exhibit.

"They also painted the museum’s longitude and latitude on the wood," said Eden.

It was created by Bass Pro Shops when Jean Melvin and Kathy Marler Blue of the museum mentioned they wanted something similar to their hammerhead exhibit that stands about four feet away.

Less than a month after that initial conversation, the exhibit is complete.

Henderson Beach State Park added the proverbial cherry on top of the already realistic artwork done by donating sand for the new exhibit.

Located at 108 Stahlman Ave., the Destin History and Fishing Museum is packed to the gills with local history, including the new Eden Reef Exhibit that you really must "sea to believe."