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New Biomuseo Divided Oceans Room
New Biomuseo Divided Oceans Room. The Biodiversity Museum: Panama Bridge of Life, better known as the Biomuseum, is an architectural jewel, designed by the renowned Canadian architect, Frank Gehry, and this is his first building in Latin America. The edifice cost $60 million and has eight galleries and eight “devices of wonder” which narrate the story of the origin of the Panamanian isthmus and its gigantic impact on the planet’s biodiversity. These galleries were conceived by Canadian designer, Bruce Mau, founder of the Institute Without Boundaries.
This unique museum, which is now managed by a private foundation, is entering a second phase with the creation, development and construction of two enormous vertical aquariums at a cost of $18 million.
The new gallery, called “Divided Oceans” (Océanos Divididos), will be a representation of the Panamanian aquatic environment that shows the isthmus, not only as a bridge but also as a barrier which divided a great sea.
The new room will be covered with graphics showing the microscopic, plankton life of the oceans. The lighting will be soft, to simulate the ocean environment. It will have two ten meter high, salt water, acrylic tanks, one, with a capacity of 510,000 liters, which will contain fish from the Pacific Ocean while the second, 360,000 liter tank, will have marine life from the Atlantic. The eight centimeter thick tanks were manufactured by the Japanese company, Nipura, in Kobe.
Darien Montañez, Biomuseum Public Program director, who is also an architect, said that currently they are studying which species they will put in the tanks. The idea is to have a coral wall with small and colorful fish that are characteristic of the Caribbean coral reef.
The Pacific tank will simulate the rocky reefs of Coiba and the bottom will be blue like the interminable depths of this ocean. Both tanks will demonstrate that the Caribbean has a lot of biodiversity, but not as many fish (bio mass) as the Pacific. The whole idea is to have sister species such as the queen angel fish and the king angel fish that evolved in a different manner when they were separated as the isthmus emerged from the sea.
The tanks have been designed by Ted Maranda, who has worked in the Long Beach and Monterrey aquariums, which are among the best in the world. The water that is going to be used in them will come from the Pacific Ocean. The filtration system will be closed with an influx of fresh sea water. Divers will take care of the cleaning of the tank and feeding the fish.
The Biomuseum experts together with the Smithsonian Institute are calculating how many fish it will be possible to have per tank and how they will be divided between small, medium and large as well as how to establish the ecosystem. “We do not want fish which are too aggressive or carnivorous,” said Montañes.
In addition to these tanks, there will be smaller ones with live coral and others showing mangrove roots and the marine life that inhabits them. The original plans contemplated river water exhibits, but this idea was discarded, because they need different filtration.
The aquariums will be ready at the beginning of 2018.
By Marijulia Pujol Lloyd