Minister for Tourism and Consumer Protection Julia Farrugia Portelli together with the Malta Tourism Authority Chairman Gavin Gulia, were invited to the Malta National Aquarium to visit the programme of works and other initiatives being done during the lockdown period of the aquarium. The Malta National Aquarium which is governed by the Malta Tourism Authority had a number of works and projects going on while currently closed due to COVID-19. The total investment was over €600,000.
The closure of the centre was seen as an opportunity to embark on maintenance works and other projects. Attractions and other areas around the aquarium were shifted, by emptying any tanks which would have been a disturbance to the public upon their visit. New themes were created and the appropriate fish, anemone and corals were selected for the tanks. Works are estimated to be ready in time for the reopening, and are aimed to enrich the visitors’ experience.
A new Quarantine area is also being developed for the quarantine process when bringing new fish for the public exhibits. This has involved refurbishing a service corridor which was not in use by creating drains, whilst applying humidity resistant gypsum panels on the walls and retiling the floor and walls as well together with all the necessary plumbing and electrical works to make it fully functional. This would render the old quarantine area in an alternative space to open potentially 5 new tanks in the near future, since the area is adjacent to the public side of the aquarium. There also advanced plans to make a rainforest exhibition to further compliment the ongoing increase of tanks we have in the aquarium.
Another investment is a new Chiller that is going to be incorporated into the existing Chilling system to further be prepared for heatwaves and our hectic Summer in order to keep optimal conditions for both our animals and all personnel in the complex. Also, a new lighting infrastructure will be installed both in and around the Aquarium by making use of more energy saving lights that provide sharper lighting, together with increased colour changing functionality for the exterior and interior of the dome, in all walkways, fish tanks and in the restaurant area.
The Malta National Aquarium worked on two educational projects with the University of Malta consisting of new exhibits in the aquarium, and feature a new Seabird Cave and a new conservation section within the existing sea bird cave area, and a designated area was built with the aim to promote conservation and recycling through an educational, eye catching and powerful display to suit all ages. This will involve lots of imagination to create an area using our everyday waste. Another project is the Aquaponics Display, also in collaboration with University of Malta which is aimed to plan and design a new display for the aquarium based on Aquaponics Technology. This consists of a sustainable display which would explain how Aquaponics can be beneficial in countries and territories with limited access to water, electricity and fertile soil.
A new and unique exhibit is the Amazon Forest. This exhibit will eventually portray an Amazon tributary at the beginning stage of its seasonal flooding. One-third of the world’s animal species call the Amazon home, including reptiles, insects, and a large variety of fish. In this zone there will be approximately four to five displays that portray identical slices of the river forest: one in the rainy season and the other in the dry season.
Minister for Tourism and Consumer Protection Julia Farrugia Portelli stated that with an investment of over €600,000, the Malta National Aquarium took advantage of the current COVID-19 situation by enriching the experience of one of the most frequented sites by tourist families and locals in order to improve our tourism product. Chairman of the Malta Tourism Authority Gavin Gulia added that such investment between the private sector hand in hand with the Government entities will ensure our sustainability in tourism when we plan to reopen our sites. Mark Pace, Director of Sales and Marketing of the Malta National Aquarium stated that during the closure of the centre, besides the infrastructural and technical investment, they continued to keep their followers active by several educational and interactive talks and added that the Aquarium is fully geared and ready to open its doors again once it is possible to do so.