The marine aquarium and museum at the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) premises in Foreshore Estate here are to be upgraded. The work is expected to begin next month.

An order allocating Rs.50 lakh towards the upgradation of the aquarium and Rs.10 lakh for improving the museum was issued recently by ZSI Director Ramakrishna, according to K.Venkataraman, officer-in-charge and Director, Marine Biology Regional Centre, Chennai.

18 tanks

The aquarium now has 18 tanks, each four feet high and eight feet long. Their controls are manual. As part of the project, the control of the tanks would be made semi-automatic and provision would be made to accommodate many other species, sensitive to changes in their habitat. Wave-like conditions would be created in the tanks and removal of waste would be done using protein skimmers, he said.

A touch tank will also be installed. The marine organisms in it could be touched and felt by visitors, Dr. Venkataraman said, adding that the upgradation work would be completed in three months.

On the proposed work at the museum, he said over two lakh collection holdings of attractive species would be displayed. These include the skeleton of a dugong, which was bitten by a sting ray and found dead in the Gulf of Mannar region. Apart from this a variety of corals found in the Gulf of Mannar and the Chennai coast would be exhibited, he said.

A new attraction in the aquarium is Jelly Fish, which formed part of a fisherman's catch near the Napier Bridge recently.

Dr. Venkataraman said not many studies have been conducted on this marine organism and the ones done show that they swarm the sea when the temperature is warm.

Their body is composed of 90 per cent of water and their umbrellas are gelatinous in nature.

There is need to study the impact of climate change on the marine eco system, he added.

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