Kochi: As part of promoting ‘fisheries tourism’, Kerala Government has initiated a proposal to set up a Rs350 crore Oceanarium here, the country’s first, to enable a thrilling experience for people and researchers to study marine species, including large ones like whales and sharks, and habitat at a closer level.
The proposed project, to be set up on a public-private partnership model, spread over 50 acres at Puthuvypeen in Ernakulam District, was expected to be launched by 2010, Kerala minister for fisheries, S Sarma said.
An oceanarium is a simulated ocean and contains all the living organisms found in the water body including large species like whales and sharks, he said.
“Once the procedures are finalised, we plan to start the construction work by this year end and are hoping to commission the project by the end of 2010”, Sarma said.
Feasibility of the project was under study by the Kerala State Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation after which global tenders would be called to appoint a consultancy for the project, Dr Madhusoodhana Kurup, Advisor to the Fisheries Minister, said.
Finance will not be a problem and there are people who are showing interest in investing, he said, adding a steering committee has already been appointed.
Tourists could get the feel of walking on the sea bed getting a clear view of the spectacular water world. The main tank is meticulously planned to reflect the various aspects of the world beneath the ocean. Reef, rock and weed structures are reproduced to create a pleasant enviornment and a natural habitat for the marine species that will make it their home, the official said.
Ten acres out of the 50 acres identified has been allotted to Kochi-based Centre for Marine Living Resources and Ecology of the Ministry of Earth Sciences to shift its research activities to that area,Kurup said.
Apart from commercial activities, the oceanarium will have tie up with Indian Universities and Marine Biological Research Centre in order to undertake marine research projects in collaboration with similar centres abroad and facilitate local research centre with opportunities to do live research projects in Marine biology and biotechnology.
The important area of the oceanarium complex will be its main tank, which house the curved acrylic tunnel through which marine life could be viewed from close range. The main tank is of heavy ‘RCC construction´ to hold around 12,000 cubic M of seawater.
A 250 M long, 2.4 M wide transparent curved acrylic tunnel will be winding through this main tank. The acrylic tunnel will have a slow moving walkway, so also a fixed platform inside the tunnel for the visitors to step aside if they wish to view a particular species of their interest in detail, Kurup said.
The Marine Department have plans to set up a world standard convention centre for holding international marine conferences and seminars related to marine life studies, with a seating capacity for 1000 people, chain of restaurants, coffee houses, provisions, books and library, an amphitheatre for watching movies, a musical fountain and a food court, Kurup said.
The oceanarium will have varied species of marine organisms collected from all over the world swimming amidst corals, reef and underwater caves, he said.
There will be a museum of fisheries depicting the history and development of fisheries in the state, he said.
The history of the modern aquarium began some 130 years ago when the Zoological Society of London commenced work on an ‘Aquatic Vivarium´. Philip Henry Gosse was one of the original suppliers of stocks to this new fish house at the London Zoo and it was he who introduced the word ‘aquarium´ in its mdoern sense.