Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Aquatica KK marine centre to be Sabah's latest tourism attraction

KOTA KINABALU - An RM23 million marine centre here will not only be Sabah's latest tourism attraction but it also aims to raise the public's environmental awareness.

The centre, to be called Aquatica KK, will include an aquarium with over 500 species of marine animals and an ocean science discovery centre.

Prof Steve Oakley, the centre's technical director, said it would be unlike any other in Southeast Asia because its focus was to promote the conservation of marine life through education and awareness rather than the 'wow' factor.

Oakley, who had done extensive surveys on the reefs in Sabah for the past decade, said the idea for the centre was mooted after he realised that coastal problems here were due to a lack of awareness and education.

"We wanted a centre which would really help improve the mindset of the community and make a difference," he said. The project, which will be built in two phases and in separate locations, is funded by private investors and Innoprise Sdn Bhd.

Phase one will be built at Mile 2, off Jalan Tuaran, and it will incorporate an aquarium and the ocean science discovery centre where there would be educational modules like puzzles, interactive displays and touch pools.

It is expected to be open to the public in May.

Phase two, focusing more on marine life, will have bigger tanks and an underground walk-through tunnel. It will be built in the basement of the 1Borneo shopping centre which is due for completion at the end of the year.

"We want it to focus on ecosystems and bio-diversity but at the same time appeal to all kinds of visitors, which is why we will have sections like coral reefs, padi fields, aquaculture, and the touch-pools," said Oakley.

There will also be a shark tank, an otter section, predator corner, rays and skates, snakes, turtles, a rainforest section and one for the fresh-water species.

"Most of the species on display at the aquarium will be things you can find locally," said Oakley.

"We will import some species but we want it to be about the coasts and reefs of Sabah. Education and environmental awareness is of utmost importance to us. We will work to bring school children from rural and coastal areas to the centre to enable them to learn more about the environment," he said.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

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