Valuable fish and invertebrates from around the world are moving out of the Pier Aquarium and into temporary quarters.
The first five arrived Wednesday at the USF St. Petersburg's student center. As many as 20 more may join them in the near future, joining a jostling for bunk space in progress.
"They will essentially scout out the territory in the tank, they'll find a spot that they like the best...and then they will claim that territory," explained Pier Aquarium curator Butch Ringelsplaugh.
Others will reside in existing tanks at the USF College of Marine Science, the restaurant at the Don CeSar resort and the offices of the Florida Orchestra. However the 1,100 gallon tank at the student center is brand new, paid for with a $25,000 grant from Duke Energy and a $12,000 contribution from the student government.
"Makes the place look better, goes with the theme. Guy Harvey had already donated the paintings, we call it the Reef, we're located on the water, so many things led up to it. It seemed like an opportunity we couldn't let pass," student body president Mark Lombardi-Nelson told FOX 13 News.
All of those fish will be Pier Aquarium refugees. The others will have to make nice with new neighbors.
"Some of them will be mixed in with the fish that already inhabit there," director Howard Rutherford conceded. "But it's an opportunity for us to promote Secrets of the Sea Marine Explorations Center and Aquarium."
That new facility at John's Pass Village will be six times larger than the Pier Aquarium. There will be many more sea creatures and educational displays featuring the work of St. Petersburg's "Ocean Team."
The combination of several university, state and federal marine research facilities clustered in downtown St. Petersburg constitutes one of the largest marine research communities in the nation. Rutherford said construction of The Secrets of the Sea facility should start within a month and be open in time for the winter holidays.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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