Cairns gains new perspective with installation of Underwater Viewing Tunnel at Cairns Aquarium
Construction of the $54M Cairns Aquarium has reached another significant milestone with the installation of the acrylic underwater viewing tunnel and the acrylic panels that enclose the showpiece 1.7Million litre Oceanarium. For the past few weeks’ specialist acrylic installation crews have been onsite installing 40 acrylic panels of differing sizes, however there is very special significance given to the installation of the complex acrylic components that provide the underwater viewing experience.
Two curved acrylic panels, weighing almost 7 tonnes each, were manoeuvred into place to form the 20 metre viewing tunnel that will provide visitors with a 270-degree view of predators of the ocean.
This precision exercise was followed by the installation of two of the largest curved acrylic panels which are 3 metres high and 8.5 m and 9.5m long respectively. These panels were lifted by crane and delicately lowered though the third level roof void before being installed onto the concrete support rebate. These panels, when in place, effectively delivered the 360-degree underwater view of the on-site recreated Coral Sea environment - currently know by the construction workers as the “Donut Room” for reasons that become very obvious when seen.
Cairns Aquarium General Manager said “I have had the opportunity to escort people through the aquarium during the construction process and there is not one person who has not marvelled at the design and the size of the Oceanarium, and that was when it was only a concrete shell. The installation of the acrylic panels completely changes your perspective and opens your mind to the fact that visitors will soon be standing here surrounded by schooling sharks, rays and the stunning fish of the Barrier Reef”.
In the aquarium industry the Oceanarium is often considered to be the centrepiece of a world class aquarium and the Cairns Aquarium Oceanarium is the most modern design in Australia.
Cairns Aquarium Senior Curator Ramon Barbosa who has worked in aquariums around the world said “This Oceanarium will provide visitors with the opportunity to see these amazing sea creatures in extremely close proximity and from a perspective that could never be seen without diving on the reef. It is like the reef has been bought into the city centre”.