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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Marina aquarium will be back !!!!

The sandy shores of  ‘Marina beach’ known for its  pristine beautiful sandy shores -  runs from Fort St George to Besant Nagar. This beach has a long history, conceived in 1884 and christened by Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant-Duff, the then governor of Madras – the beautiful beach  is famed for the  ambience and rich eco system though it  stands a lot polluted now.   On the road side, many stone statues, some of them installed during the Tamil World Conference adorn the area.  It keeps people healthy, providing the right ambience for the early morning walkers and those spend their evenings enjoying the sea-breeze, especially in sweltering summer.

At Marina, one can hear the sea, the sound of waves  and nearer – the  waves jumping and touching the shore and then submitting themselves to the shore but trying to come back to conquer again ! would be very interesting sight  – One  can see monstrous  ships anchored in the middle of sea, some fishing boats and Sun coming out as a red ball from the Sea – all great sights to behold.  To those given to enjoying Nature, the morning at Marina  provides innumerable things.... down here, there are only 3 seasons – hot, hotter and hottest – though nearer sea, it would be lot pleasant in evenings.

Over the years, lot has changed – the ‘radio beach’ no longer exists – behind the Kannagi statue stood ‘Seerani Arangam’- the Thilagar Thidal place on which so many meetings were held.  Opposite to Presidency College, there was a promenade – a  radio kept on a pedestal, people would gather around to hear ‘maanila seithigal’ – the news in Tamil. There used to be many shops selling sea-shells, conches, and more – and of course lot of food ~from cut mangoes, sugarcane juice, murukku, thenga-manga-pattani-sundal and bajji shops [a particular shop run by an old lady – mami bajji shop  was a great hit]

Of the many missing is the  free water booth maintained by Rajasthani Youth Association, the Mail van that used to collect letters at Marina in the evenings till 06.30 pm, Public library ……………..and….. the aquarium ~not a big one, rather small one – having some 30 odd water tanks and not many exotic fish – have seen star fish, star tortoise and seahorses among other things here.

An aquarium can range from a small glass bowl to immense public aquaria that house entire ecosystems such as kelp forests. An aquarium  is a vivarium of any size having at least one transparent side in which water-dwelling plants or animals are kept and displayed. Fishkeepers use aquaria to keep fish, invertebrates, amphibians, aquatic reptiles such as turtles, and aquatic plants. The term, coined by English naturalist Philip Henry Gosse, combines the Latin root aqua, meaning water, with the suffix -arium, meaning "a place for relating to".

It  is so enchanting to keep looking at fish swimming whether in a pond or in a aquarium.  Fish keeping is a popular hobby which sure would give you lot of mental peace and tranquillity.  There are very big aquariums in some Countries where humans walk inside and from the sides can view the marine animals in their natural best.  For someone used to enjoying  the sight of guppies bred at Kairavini Pushkarini by Madras Corporation – this aquarium was a treat to watch.

Maybe it's the sluggishly moving fish, maybe it's the slowly waving seaweed. Whatever it is, aquariums have the power to reduce stress, new research has found. Scientists at the National Marine Aquarium recently had the chance to study how one of its larger exhibits was affecting people while it was being slowly restocked with new fish. They studied physiological effects the tank had on people as they looked at it, and discovered that as more fish were added, heart rates and blood pressure dropped. People reported having better moods after looking at the exhibit.

About a decade or so back, the aquarium at Marina was closed, building demolished and moved to Zoological Survey of India premises at Foreshore estate. Somehow, I could not visit this as a couple of times found it closed for strange reasons – perhaps its entry timings are more like an office – ‘9 to 5’ and closed on weekends and Govt holidays !!!  In this perspective, this newsitem in today’s Times of India, Chennai edition makes an interesting read :

Something fishy is brewing at Marina but it's something to cheer about. Tamil Nadu Fisheries Development Corporation planning to set up a marine aquarium near the swimming pool. Officials said the aquarium, which will give a peep into the country's fish resources, will be as interesting as it would be informative. Fisheries minister K A Jayapal told the assembly on Tuesday that the aquarium would come up on a piece of land owned by the fisheries department.

“The facility will be a worldclass one, built with sophisticated technology ,“ the minister said. The project will take off after the department finalises a consultant to carry out a detailed study on the logistics and revenue model to run the show. Being a coastal city , many tourists are disappointed that Chennai doesn't have such a facility. A small aquarium that stood on the land the government had allotted for the new project, was washed away by the 2004 tsunami.

“Given that one of the longest beaches in the world is getting more footfalls each passing day, the government is keen on a public-private partnership model to offer an enjoyable experience,“ an official said. The old aquarium was in a dilapidated structure that gave way in the tsunami, but the land remains with the fisheries department. “There will not be any issue with the coastal zone regulations since a structure had already stood there for a while” said a senior official. When the previous DMK regime took up massive beautification drive of Marina, the aquarium was given the go-by.

Hope this translates in to reality and visitors could relish seeing many varieties of fish and more…..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

16th Sept. 2015.

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