With the cat away (the cat is mostly in Budapest this week), the mice will head down to the Two Oceans Aquarium and learn about the progress of their new exhibit, before going on an excellent behind the scenes tour.
For a start, the passion of the staff is clearly evident. From the friendly greeting, through to the knowledgeable and infectious enthusiasm of Mike de Maine, the Technical Manager, everyone was keen to educate the visitors and answer any queries. Breakfast was served, my kids ate about seventy-four croissants each and we looked at technical plans and 3D renderings of the new section of the aquarium. Mike – who is project managing the work – showed us photos of the new build and shared some of the difficulties that they have experienced: from the unusually varied rock structure underneath the site through to the metalworkers’ strike, which is threatening to push the opening of the new tank back. We were given some startling numbers about cost, concrete and steelwork (I’ll have to look these up, but suffice to say that they were all very big). Also big are the stats on the new tank, from the huge, single-piece 350mm thick acrylic windows to the 10m long tunnel.
And then curator Michael Farquhar gave us a quick run down of the complex operation coming up when they will have to transfer the fish from the current tank to the new one and the challenges that they face in doing it. One of things I didn’t realise is that the old tanks (the Kelp Tank and the Predator Exhibit) are leaking and need repairs. There will need to be some shifting around of stock in order for these repairs to be done – all while the aquarium remains open and the public enjoy their visit.
Finally, we headed backstage and had a look at the surprisingly shabby roof areas, including the top of the predator and kelp tanks – complete with penguins chilling out on the roof. Sadly, the light wasn’t great and my camera has gone to Hungary with the cat, so please excuse the photos.
This is the top of the I&J Predator Exhibit:
And part of the filter room, “something” in the lab and a kitchen shopping list.
All in all, a pretty cool and educational couple of hours, and if you are members at the aquarium (and if you’re in Cape Town and you have kids, you really should be) then get yourself along to the next members breakfast – really interesting stuff, nice people and a great way to spend a Saturday morning.