The North Atlantic centre for sustainable marine environment
To the Faroe Islands – a fishing nation in the middle of the North Atlantic – life in the sea is a completely essential and natural part of the Faroese identity. And a sustainable coexistence with the surrounding ocean is natural to the inhabitants.
Therefore, there is no more suitable spot to place a new North Atlantic oceanarium and marine research centre.
Building on the extensive knowledge about the sea that exists on the islands and the experience drawn from the existing aquarium (Føroya Sjósavn) and local marine
research institutions, the new North Atlantic Centre for Sustainable Marine Environment was envisioned.
The municipality of capital of Tórshavn has granted the land right next to both the beautiful beach, Sandagerði, and the port of Tórshavn, providing the perfect location for the centre.
Eilif Gaard, Director
of the Institute of Marine Research
With wet laboratories, research aquariums, lighting and climate-controlled spaces, aquarium facilities with controlled water, quarantine rooms, workshops, offices, classrooms, a lecture hall, apartment for guest researcher etc. the new national oceanarium will have ideal facilities for marine research. The centre will participate in research projects in collaboration with e.g.:
The location of the aquarium by the shore makes it quick and easy to transport most fish species from the sea to the fish tanks. This, combined with the good quarantine conditions, which have been given high priority, makes it possible to replace fish frequently. The concept is that fish should be released back to the sea when they have reached a certain size.
Such a practice where we just “borrow” fish and invertebrates for a limited period is both sustainable and ethically sound and has already been used at Føroya Sjósavn for years. Many green innovations have been developed to make the new centre and oceanarium energy efficient in a way that is truly unique in the world.
The new national oceanarium will have ideal facili-ties for marine research. The center will provide optimal opportunities to study marine life close by under controlled conditions, keeping animals alive in aquariums. This makes it easy to produce scientific material.
With its proximity to the sea, most fish species and invertebrates can easily be transported from the sea to holding tanks, minimizing any stress to the animals.
The facilities include wet laboratories, research aquariums, lighting and climate-controlled spaces, aquarium facilities with controlled water, quarantine rooms, workshops, offices, classrooms, a lecture hall, apartment for guest researcher etc.
The good quarantine facilities make it possible to facilitate the sustainable and ethical concept of regularly returning animals to the sea and having them in aquariums only for a limited time.
Svein-Ole Mikalsen, Dr. philos., Professor in molecular biology,
University of the Faroe Islands
With the new improved facilities, the opportunities both in education and research would be greatly improved
In several areas, the New National Oceanarium will rethink the entire way aquariums are built.
Inspired by aquaculture / fish farming on land, where you use round fish tanks, the main aquarium will be round with integrated filtration in the middle of the aquarium.
This type of filtration eliminates the need for external filtration with pipes to and from the aquarium. Thus, water is moved as short as possible, which is a huge advantage in terms of energy, as you can manage with lowenergy pumps that significantly reduce the total energy consumption.
You can also easily change the current, so you avoid “dead spots” in the tub. This mimics the water agitation in nature with changing ocean currents.
The round tank also gives the fish the illusion that they are swimming in an infinitely large area. This should provide better animal welfare. But also, for the visitors, the aquarium will provide a different experience than they have tried elsewhere.
Fresh seawater is pumped into the tanks, and energy from the seawater is via a heat pump used to heat the building. The low energy cost means that you can afford to have a full replacement of all the water
in the tanks every day, which makes bio filters and the like superfluous and always ensures completely fresh seawater in the aquariums.
The estimated total energy consumption is 1/3 of the consumption in similar aquariums elsewhere.
The use of daylight is also a special aspect. There is no roof over the large 600-ton tank. This way you use daylight to illuminate the tank and get a natural, changing light with sun rays penetrating the water and creating shimmering water. This is also energy efficient.
The aquarium will thus be completely open to the elements, so that rain and wind - even birds - have free access to influence biology, create small waves, etc. There are also plans to experiment with having diving seabirds such as cormorants or eiders in the large tank.
This way, the aquarium will be lit by natural light for the most part. However, LED lights will illuminate it in the evening and in winter, which will also highlight the building as an attraction and landmark for the city close to the entrance to the capital by sea.
The smaller aquariums are mobile. Air cushions are fitted underneath with compressed air, which makes it possible to move them around to create variation in the exhibition. This is probably a complete novelty in aquarium worldwide. At the same time, this mobility also makes it easy to clear the floor in connection with events.
All of the above are elements that will make this oceanarium completely unique in the world.
A pilot project with a temporary outdoor aquarium is currently being built, where we will gain experience in how to make porbeagle shark thrive. A fullsize prototype (600 tons) built with 10 x 20-foot containers will provide important experiences before embarking on the new National Oceanarium. This prototype is built solely with the support of many local companies that supply materials and manpower for the project. Again, a testament to the great support the project enjoys locally.
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