Copenhagen’s grand old aquarium to ‘sleep with the fishes’

History is in the making as Danmarks Akvarium prepares for its move from Charlottenlund to Kastrup

August 10th, 2012 10:05 am| by admin
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If you’ve ever been to Danmarks aquarium next to Chartlottenlund Fort, just off Strandvejen, the coastal road that winds its way up north to Helsingør, you’ll know that some off its inhabitants are living in tight quarters.

There are reef sharks patrolling a vastly undersized main aquarium, a massive alligator snapping turtle in a tiny tank, and a large school of piranha that probably have to devour one another in order to get some breathing room.

But things are going to improve for the residents of Denmark’s oldest aquarium, which dates back to 1939, because soon they’ll be moving to a new home. And it’s not small.

On October 31, Danmarks Akvarium closes its doors to the public for the last time before opening up as Den Blå Planet (The Blue Planet) on March 22, 2013.

It will be the first time in history that a major aquarium moves and moving preparations are already afoot, in the basement of the old aquarium and throughout the world even. That’s because the animals and plants currently residing in Danmarks Akvarium will only take up 20 percent of The Blue Planet. The rest are being located and some even trained in various parts of the world.

But the move presents its own set of problems. Many of the creatures constantly require their wet environment and some, such as the sharks, must constantly move in order to survive. The biggest dilemma is acquiring and transporting the new creatures and plants to The Blue Planet.

Jesper Horsted, who is the vocational director of the new aquarium, maintains that the move must be sensitive to the animals, be sustainable, and follow international guidelines.

“We have negotiated for a while about getting a sea parrot egg for hatching in our Faeroe Islands facility, but it’s in the balance still,” Horsted told science website Videnskab.dk. “Our sea turtles must also be injured so that we can rehabilitate and release them again. Every year young sea otters, close to extinction, are stranded in Alaska and the plan is to get some of the ones that can’t be released into the wild again.”

The new aquarium will become one of the few in the world where live coral will be used and the water capacity of the new aquarium will be 25 times greater than the old one, totaling an astounding seven million litres.

The massive ocean aquarium will be eight metres high and 16 metres wide and need four million litres of water, four times the amount of water that Danmarks Akvarium uses in total. That much water will generate 600 tons of pressure so the aquarium glass will be half a metre thick and weigh 60 tons.

And with the size of some of its inhabitants, thick glass stands to good reason. Danmarks Akvarium has a few small sharks and rays, but The Blue Planet will contain large Manta Rays and Hammerhead sharks.

The rays and hammerheads will come to Denmark from Taiwan and will be just over a meter long when they arrive. It is easier to transport them at this size and younger animals have an easier time adapting to new surroundings.

”We have researched what species belong to which ecosystems so we can recreate an environment as correctly as possible,” Horsted told Videnskab.dk. “And at the same time everything must be sustainable, including our importation of plants and animals.”

And there will be plenty of new experiences ready for the public as well. Visitors will be able to walk through a 16 metre glass tunnel allowing a 360 degree view of the wildlife.

There will also be hydrophones, underwater microphones, installed so the public can listen to the sounds the ocean creatures make.

A final possibility that is being examined is allowing visitors to actually dive with the animals. They will be accompanied with a guide and must have a diving license though the as of yet no decision has been made.

The Blue Planet Fact Box

- The tropical aquariums need 5 million litres of water and 140 tons of special salt to emulate a real tropical ocean setting.

- All water will be filtered once an hour and is reused in a process that also sterilises the water using ultraviolet light.

- The Blue Planet will house 20,000 creatures from 450 species, which will be allocated to 53 aquarium and land facilities.

- 700,000 visitors a year are estimated to visit the new aquarium complex, more than triple the 200,000 that annually go see Danmarks Akvarium.

- As opposed to its predecessor, The Blue Planet’s location will cater well to tourism as it is situated close to Copenhagen Airport, the Øresund bridge connection, the city metro and Amager Strandpark beach area.

- The size of the aquarium will be at 9,000 square metres, with a 2,000 square metre outdoor facility and a parking lot.

- Aside from the main project contributors, Realdania, Knud Højgaards Fund and Tårnby Council, Queen Margrethe and Prince Henriks Fund has also donated to the construction of The Blue Planet, Denmark’s new Danmarks Akvarium.

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