Construction begins on Australia's first public aquarium built in 17 years
Large-scale construction has begun on the $50 million Cairns Aquarium, the first public aquarium to be built in Australia in 17 years.

When completed, the tourism attraction will be the second
largest publicly accessible aquarium in Australia.

"We're going to be at
about 7,500 square metres, whereas Sydney Aquarium is about 7,000 square metres
and Melbourne Aquarium is about 6,000 square metres, so it's certainly a world
class and very substantially sized public aquarium," said the project's
CEO, Daniel Leipnik.

The site of the aquarium, in the heart of the Cairns CBD,
will today take delivery of more than 390 cubic metres of concrete, delivered
in 80 truckloads, over a nine-hour period."The guys have actually been on
site doing construction for four-and-a-half months now," Mr Leipnik
said."[Today] they're pouring just the base of the actual 2 million-litre
Great Barrier Reef tank, which is the single largest tank out of 69 tanks
that'll be on site.

"Northern Australia the main attractionMr Leipnik said
all of the 15,000 individual fish and aquatic animals that will inhabit the
aquarium have been locally sourced .We've made a really key point of having only
creatures that are endemic to this region," he said."There's no
penguins from Antarctica, there's no African cychlids, there's no cold water
species; everything is about giving visitors a real feel for the biodiversity
that's in this region."

Among the animals residing in the aquarium, will be
a number of highly endangered species that Mr Leipnik hoped could be bred in
captivity and reintroduced to the wild to bolster populations."Things like
golden-sleepy cod — there's only 100 of them left in the wild — are on the
complete verge of extinction," he said."Also things like freshwater
sawfish, which are also incredibly endangered and northern Australia has the
last remaining stock of those in the wild."And then some really rare and
bizarre things like ribboned pipefish, which are a wet tropics version of the
weedy sea dragon.

"Construction on the project is scheduled for completion
in early 2017, with doors and exhibits open to visitors in April 2017.