The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Marine life show in death swirl

Digha, April 8: The marine aquarium that opened here barely two months ago is proving to be quite a damp squib for eager tourists. Several exotic species like starfish, seahorse and pipefish have perished as the facility, touted as a crowd-puller, struggles to keep its doors open for the public even on holidays.

The Zoological Survey of India’s (ZSI) aquarium-cum-research centre with 24 glass tanks holding marine life that one can otherwise see only on television channels was opened on February 4 on a 6.5-acre plot here. Authorities are yet to pinpoint the cause behind the early casualties.

“It could be that the creatures died due to injuries they sustained while being netted as they are very delicate. It could also be that the very irregular power supply is affecting maintenance of the delicate marine environment. Sea creatures are extremely sensitive to any changes,” said Tapan Kumar Chatterjee, ZSI deputy director.

An employee at the aquarium said it was difficult to maintain the glass tanks due to a dearth of supervisory staff. “The water that is drawn from the sea through a pumping and filtration system cannot be run continuously due to a lack of manpower. The quality of water in the tanks could be deteriorating because of this and leading to the death of the creatures,” the official said.

Conceding a need for more workers, Chatterjee said the shortage in manpower was preventing the authorities from keeping the aquarium open on all days, especially holidays when tourists throng to the seaside. “We have told our higher-ups about this problem and also the fact that we are not being able to charge a fee from visitors. We expect things to work out by the end of this month,” Chatterjee said.

When asked about the irregular power supply to Digha, state electricity board officials said power was supplied to the tourist destination on a priority basis. Even otherwise, they said, the death of the creatures could not be attributed to erratic power supply as the aquarium had a generator set for emergencies.

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