A new aquarium and maritime center planned at the former Lemon Island marina could open its doors by the end of August.
Jody Hayward, director of the Port Royal Sound Foundation, which is overseeing the project, said a specific date has not been set. However, most of the major work on the first phase of the new Port Royal Sound Maritime Center is done.
"It's hard to say a date right now because we've still got some painting and odds and ends to take care of," Hayward said.
The center overlooks the Chechessee River. Hayward said the work has been on schedule, but a couple of recently donated exhibits have delayed the opening.
She declined to describe the exhibits because she doesn't want to spoil the surprise.
"Great opportunities have come our way that we wanted to take advantage of," Hayward said. "Otherwise, everything is on schedule."
The center's 3,000-gallon aquarium has been built, and its plumbing will be installed next week. The aquarium will be home to a variety of sea creatures at various times, including red drum, black drum and bonnethead sharks.
The tank will be filled with filtered water from the Chechessee River.
"The water is a little murky," Hayward said. "It needs to be cleaned up so you can see the fish."
The Maritime Center has also partnered with the University of South Carolina Beaufort for an exhibit on underwater sound, which will discuss the different sounds that fish make and their communication patterns. Another exhibit will show how the moon and tides are connected.
The center, which will cost more than $2 million, has been mostly funded by financial and in-kind donations during the past three years.
In April, the Beaufort County Council granted the Port Royal Sound Foundation the $292,000 needed to complete the project.
Last week, the foundation received a $40,000 grant from the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry to hire a director of development to lead fundraising.
Hayward said the center will always be a work in progress, with different sea creatures coming and going and rotating exhibits.
"When we open the doors, it will not be to the final product," Hayward said. "It will just be phase one."
Follow reporter Laura Oberle at twitter.com/IPBG_Laura.