Make us your home page
Instagram

Where does the aquarium get all that water?

The next time you're gazing at the sharks, turtles, fish and rays swimming around the Florida Aquarium's crystal-clear tanks, take a minute to consider how all that saltwater gets there. Though the Ybor Channel is just a stone's throw away, it takes a carefully orchestrated routine involving barges, aqueducts, filters and pumps to move it from far out in the gulf to the aquarium's tanks.

On Wednesday, the aquarium offered a glimpse of the process:

What: 300,000 gallons of saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico are delivered to the Florida Aquarium in Tampa every other month for use in the attraction's exhibits.

Who: Mosaic Fertilizer in Mulberry donates the use of two of its barges, which pump seawater into their ballast tanks for the aquarium during return trips to Tampa after picking up molten sulphur, a component used in making fertilizer, at ports in Texas and Louisiana.

How: The 418.3-foot barge Alafia takes on the aquarium-bound water when it's about 100 miles outside of Tampa in about 10,000 feet of water. Upon arrival in Tampa's port, the Alafia ties up next to the World War II-era Victory Ship behind the aquarium. The water is then pumped from the barge to holding tanks next to the aquarium through a series of (sometimes leaky) pipes in a process taking up to four hours.

The saltwater is then circulated through something similar to a giant pool filter, which uses sand, activated carbon and ozone, for three to four days. Once it's been tested for purity by the aquarium's biologists, the raw seawater is pumped to a 1,000-gallon tank on the roof of the facility. It is then gravity-fed through a maze of pipes inside the aquarium and tapped by biologists to replenish evaporated water in the attraction's tanks as needed.

Bottom line: Mosaic estimates the cost, in terms of time, staffing and fuel, for hauling the aquarium water is about $10,000 a trip, six times a year. The fertilizer company has been donating its services for three and a half years; for about 11 years before that, TECO provided the service.

Aquarium officials say its ability to use natural saltwater rather than having to create it from city water and salt, as most aquariums do, saves not only a precious fresh water resource, but also more than $400,000 annually.

Kris Hundley can be reached at hundley@sptimes.com or (727) 892-2996.

Where does the aquarium get all that water? 04/09/08 [Last modified: Monday, June 2, 2008 4:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  2. Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
  3. Line of moms welcome Once Upon A Child to Carrollwood

    Business

    CARROLLWOOD — Strollers of all shapes and sizes are lined up in front of the store, and inside, there are racks of children's clothing in every color of the rainbow.

    At Once Upon A Child, you often as many baby strollers outside as you find baby furniture and accessories. It recently opened this location in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser
  4. Pastries N Chaat brings North India cuisine to North Tampa

    Business

    TAMPA — Pastries N Chaat, a new restaurant offering Indian street food, opened this week near the University of South Florida.

    The menu at Pastries N Chaat includes a large variety of Biriyani, an entree owners say is beloved by millions. Photo courtesy of Pastries N Chaat.
  5. 'Garbage juice' seen as threat to drinking water in Florida Panhandle county

    Water

    To Waste Management, the nation's largest handler of garbage, the liquid that winds up at the bottom of a landfill is called "leachate," and it can safely be disposed of in a well that's 4,200 feet deep.

    Three samples that were displayed by Jackson County NAACP President Ronstance Pittman at a public meeting on Waste Management's deep well injection proposal. The sample on the left is full of leachate from the Jackson County landfill, the stuff that would be injected into the well. The sample on the right shows leachate after it's been treated at a wastewater treatment plant. The one in the middle is tap water.