One of the live specimen components of the new water gallery is the Pacific Aquarium. It will be located right at the entrance to the new gallery, and those of you who have visited the museum in the past few years might think that it looks familiar. The aquarium used to be in our animal care centre in the old lunchroom (insert bug-eating joke of choice here – we’ve heard them all!) and has now been relocated to the new gallery space. Unfortunately, the process of moving an aquarium like this isn’t as simple as rolling the tank upstairs into its new home and plugging it in. First of all, the aquarium is too heavy to move in one piece when it’s full of water and specimens – our elevator couldn’t handle it! Also, because the aquarium was already thriving and healthy, the biological system which is already in place is fragile, and must be treated delicately so none of the specimens are harmed or damaged in the move.
Staff handled the move by filling coolers full of salt water from the existing aquarium as well as a few specimens and carefully transported them from the basement up to the 2nd floor on the east side of the building. The existing aquarium will be set up in the mechanical support room as a back up (along with a big drum of salt water!), and then some of the remaining aquarium contents will be moved into a brand new aquarium. Staff started the move into the new aquarium with some of the heartier specimens like sea urchins and sea stars. They chose these particular specimens because they are the best candidates to maintain the existing aquarium environment, and then start up the new biological cycle in the new aquarium. As one staff member put it to me, they are the best at eating, pooping and living; important qualities to have for a sea creature in a new home! The move ended up going quite smoothly, with no damage to the specimens and only a minimal temperature change in the water. Let’s hope the specimens continue to be transferred successfully and everyone is happy in their new home!