In the Beginning.......
The Orkney Marine-Life Aquarium was created by Cindy De Battista and Alan Jackson, (the one with the funny looking fish growing out of his head!), as a pilot project to look at the feasibility of providing an aquarium visitor attraction of local sea life that would be both interesting and educational to visitors & local residents alike.
Cindy, a retired P.A. and receptionist, kept fish and reptiles as a hobby all her life and Alan had been diving, fishing, seafood processing and live shellfish transporting in Scotland since leaving the Navy in the early 1970's.
Latterly working a small creel boat in Scapa Flow, Alan had been bringing home some of the more unusual creatures that came up in the creels for Cindy to keep in small seawater systems in the utility room.
Cindy often came out with Alan on the boat and on one occasion while working off the Barrel of Butter on a bright sunny day, a colourful glow could be seen coming up from the depths in one of the creels.
It turned out to be the sun reflecting on a male Cuckoo Wrasse resplendent in his beautifully iridescent full mating colours. This was the inspiration for the idea of creating an aquarium of local sea life and being able to display some of the remarkable sea creatures found in the waters around Orkney.
Although aquariums are the fastest growing type of visitor attraction, the relatively small numbers of visitors to Orkney meant that an aquarium on a scale that could be financially viable to run might not be interesting enough to attract enough visitors! The initial construction costs could also prove to be too high to service with the level of visitors that could be reasonably be expected.
From the days of transporting live shellfish, Alan had a Vivier Articulated Trailer that had been used to transport live shellfish from Orkney to Spain and Portugal.
The photo shows the trailer on St Margaret's Hope pier ready for loading. It had not been used for a couple of years and was in fact obsolete for the long runs to the continent. Modern Vivier Trailers have stackable or nesting tanks to enable them to be utilised for return loads of fruit & veg.
Our trailer had been constructed with built-in tanks in the days when fuel costs were lower and it was still feasible to return empty and make a profit on the one way load!
Conventional aquarium construction costs were a non starter for Orkney and had already been looked at for a project in Stromness. Our trailer with it's built in tanks was a proven temperature controlled environment for fish and shellfish. All we had to do was find a way of letting the public see into the tanks!.....and build a filter system...and find a way of keeping the weather off our visitors....and........and....etc.
To be continued.