Oceanarium / Oceanário

Expo Lisbon 1998 - Architecture, pavilions, gardens, urban furniture, pictures, drawings, videos
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Oceanarium / Oceanário

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Text from a CD of Expo 2000 Hannover - The History of World Fairs

With the Ocean Pavilion, whose aquarium contained five million litres of water, Peter Chermayeff, architect and keen diver, had surpassed the size of his Osaka aquarium, which was considered the largest in the world.

He placed the building in the middle of the water of the old hydrobase in the centre of the exhibition park, Doca dos Olivais. The dice-like pavilion on stilts was accessible only by footbridges and seemed to swim in the water like a boat.

A large basin with 6,000 cubic metres of water and four aquariums in the corners housed a total of 15,000 fish and 200 species.

Here, the aim was to simulate the different biospheres of the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian and Antarctic Oceans, as in a model.

Visitors walk through cool, dark corridors with sound from the sea, past windows and can look into the depths of the underwater worlds.



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Re: Oceanarium / Oceanário

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Text extracted from "Guia Expo'98"


Duration of the visit: 40 m
Time: 10 am - 8 pm
Total number of visitors per day: 50,000 (5,000 per hour)
Pavilion architect: Peter Chermayeff
Director: Paulo Serra Lopes
Area: 18,000 m2
Additional information: Guided tours for groups on request.


The largest aquarium in Europe and one of the largest in the world houses 15,000 specimens of 250 animal species.

The oceanarium comprises five interconnected exhibition areas: the central square aquarium symbolises the global nature of the oceans; in each of its corners, four coastal and underwater habitats represent different regions of the globe. Together they convey the idea of a single body of water uniting all the oceans.

On the first floor, four large viewing areas of the central reservoir are arranged through transparent cylindrical walls. In the four corners you can see the habitats, with their own decoration, which imitate the bottom of one of the oceans. But although they are separated from the central tank by acrylic walls, all 30 centimetres thick, this is not noticeable to those observing the large aquarium. On the upper floor are the terrestrial habitats, representing coastal areas with vegetation conditions, soils and natural fauna as well as temperature and humidity characteristics. On the first floor you can see, for example, seabirds diving, and on the second floor you can see the same birds playing in the water.

The tour starts with the terrestrial habitats and is divided into two groups: the first starts by looking at the Atlantic and the other enters the Indian Ocean. They meet on the north side of the building, when they descend to the first floor.

Oceanarium / Oceanário - Expo'98
Oceanarium / Oceanário - Expo'98

There are other attractions along the way: on the walls throughout the exhibition there are 24 small aquariums with different animals and plants for each thematic area of the oceanarium. You can see flatfish, schools of tiny coloured fish, poisonous fish or species that disguise themselves and, like chameleons, acquire different colours depending on where they are. In some of these small aquariums, miniature coral reefs mingle with the colourful gardens.

In addition to the Oceanarium, Expo also hosts the Virtual Oceanarium, located in the Oceanofilia Pavilion in the International North Zone. Here you can take a virtual and interactive trip to the aquarium. Sitting in a room with 100 seats, in front of a giant screen and equipped with special glasses, the visitor can enter the oceanarium, feed the fish, imitate them or, who knows, be -devoured- by a shark if they do not manage to escape in time. The project is under the responsibility of a German-Portuguese team of technicians, led by professors from the University of Coimbra.


FEEDING THE FISH

Visitors only have access to two floors of the oceanarium, but the building has two more. The top floor, reserved for biologists, keepers and technicians, is where the frogmen dive to feed the animals once a day. The machine room on the ground floor controls the entire aquarium: a single technician is able to know the status of all the tanks, thanks to the computer system. This floor is also where the water for the Oceanarium is made. The Tagus River is too polluted, so we had to use water from the EPAL. They remove the chlorine, salt it with salts and produce the ozone that purifies it and gives it transparency. To do this, they use huge sand filters, like those in ordinary swimming pools.

Central reservoir


Represents the whole of the oceans. With a volume close to that of four Olympic swimming pools and five thousand tonnes of water, it is seven metres deep and reaches 70 metres at its maximum diagonal (including the habitats at the corners). Most of the oceanarium's 15,000 animals of 250 different species are found here. The average water temperature is 20 degrees Celsius. The fish live together peacefully, although some are natural enemies: fed frequently, they do not need to hunt to survive and have lost their natural aggression.
The rocks in the background are made of concrete and the colourful coral reefs, where, among others, elkhorn and brain corals breed, are also artificial. So are the algae and shells attached to the rocks.
The real ones are the sharks. They have been caught in the open sea and transported by plane in special boxes equipped with oxygenation devices. For example, there are hammerhead sharks, leopard sharks, zebra sharks and blacktip sharks. The latter, which are about 80 centimetres long, are genuine "miniatures" of the larger representatives of the species, such as bull sharks, of which there are several specimens at the Oceanarium, one of which is about three metres long. They swim side by side with sea bass, groupers, mackerel and sea turtles, among many other inhabitants of the waters.


Oceanarium / Oceanário - Expo'98
Oceanarium / Oceanário - Expo'98

ATLANTIC HABITAT

It reproduces the coast of the Azores and the marine strip that goes all the way to Iceland in the North Atlantic. The landscape consists of several basalt caves, with crevices through which the habitat can be observed. The surface of the artificial rocks simulates the wear and tear produced by the action of the sea and the winds, while the rocky bottom is decorated with algae, mussels and starfish. Inhabitants include 60 seabirds, including puffins, diving thrushes and guillemots.
The rock formations visible on the surface extend into the habitat below, creating caves and winding passages through which fish and diving birds move. At the bottom, among the salmon, dogfish, cod and spotted dogfish, an electric ray can be seen nesting near the sand.


ANTARCTIC HABITAT

In the icy landscape, where the temperature fluctuates between 10 and 14 degrees, the main characters are the penguins. In the background, snow-worn rocks and the wind that can be heard blowing through the bushes that are resistant to the harsh climate. The light is bluish, like in the cold lands of Antarctica. Patagonian ducks and cormorants share the space with 20 Magellanic penguins, captured in South America. These are among the oceanarium's friendliest inhabitants and play with visitors through the aquarium walls as they dive.
The underwater tank is home to schools of Cape horse mackerel and South African mullet.


INDIAN HABITAT

The density of plants, with palm and coconut trees, represents an authentic tropical forest, with the deep blue sea and sky as a backdrop. The temperature is warm and the environment humid. Colourful birds, such as lapwings and pigeons, fly through the air. On the coral reefs, in the habitat pool, among blue starfish, clownfish and anemones, schools of colourful minnows swim, as do butterfly fish, kingfish, snappers, herring and platax.
A surprise for the visitor: gradually, a thick fog forms, followed by an authentic tropical storm, with thunder, wind and heavy rain typical of the tropics.


PACIFIC HABITAT

It reproduces the temperate zone of the rocky coasts of the Pacific Ocean, with underwater kelp forests, the largest in the world, growing 30 centimetres a day. As in all oceanariums, artificial seaweed has been chosen, given the need to maintain a uniform appearance throughout the exhibition. The main attraction is a pair of Alaskan sea otters, which travelled 27 hours by plane to Lisbon. Mali and Zebi (named after Amélia Rodrigues and Eusébio) were captured on Kodiak Island, Alaska. They are fed four times a day and consume seven to eight kilos of food. The menu is a real luxury: squid, crabs, clams, shrimp and herring, among other delicacies. Very curious and playful, they rest and feed on their backs while floating in the water. They sleep holding hands, "so that the current doesn't carry them away", and if they don't like noise, they cover their ears with their paws. They share their habitat with the black oystercatchers.

This habitat includes a pool with kelp and animals typical of the Pacific kelp forest, such as sea urchins and starfish, crabs, shrimps and sea anemones. The seaweed and rocks extend to the underwater level of the pond where the otters dive.



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