Published On: December 18, 2016

Swimming with Sharks

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South America’s largest aquarium has opened in Rio de Janeiro, giving visitors an opportunity to explore the sea in a transparent tunnel and swim with sharks. AquaRio, constructed with private funds, has 28 tanks holding 4.5 million liters of water, with 2,000 animals from 200 different species expected to be on display.

The number of fish could triple in the future, AquaRio representatives said. The aquarium’s big attraction is expected to be the 3.5-million-liter tank inhabited by sharks and stingrays.

Members of the public will be able to dive among the resident sharks and get up close to them and the stingrays as well as many other species.

“Sharks are quite a docile species and pose no threat at all,” says AquaRio director and marine biologist Marcelo Szpilman. “The activity will be in a controlled environment, in clear water, and without risk.”

For those who have no interest in joining the sharks and stingrays in their native environment, there is a 20-meter (65-foot) acrylic tunnel from which to view the large fish. No other aquarium in Latin America has a similar tunnel, which gives visitors “a tremendous sensation of being immersed,” Marcelo says.

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The aquarium, which cost 130 million reais (U$40 million), is in an old grain warehouse in Rio’s port district, which underwent a complete renovation for the Rio Olympics. AquaRio will occupy 22,000 square meters spread over five floors and a basement of the warehouse.

Included in AquaRio is a virtual aquarium, where with the help of innovative technology, visitors will be able to create their own fish that will talk to them and answer their questions.

Aqua Rio is partnered with the Research Center of Marine Biology at UFRJ, Rio’s federal university. Research will take place on site with the hope of returning endangered species to Brazilian waters.

 

For more information, see the AquaRio website: http://www.aquariomarinhodorio.com.br

 

 

{Research for this article comes from the Latin American Herald Tribune.}

 

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