Sunday, February 5, 2012

Inside the Belle Isle Aquarium

A couple weeks ago, I saw on the Belle Aquarium Facebook group that they would be open on February 4th.  I was a little bummed because I had so much else to do yesterday but I figured out how I could make it work, so I ended up at the "Shiver on the River".
 The first thing that surprised me was the number of people that showed up for this event.  The aquarium wasn't even going to be full but there were many people there.  I guess that makes a pretty convincing argument that people will go to the aquarium.
 I've taken several pictures of the outside of the aquarium but I've taken them with people in them.  I think this possibly bodes well for things.
 After about 45 minutes of waiting in the line, I finally made it to this point.  Soon I would be inside the aquarium for the first time in about 20 years.  I wasn't quite sure what to expect but I wasn't expecting alot because I didn't want to be disappointed.
 Getting a little closer.  This aquarium may not be as large as some of the aquariums I have visited elsewhere but the building has some degree of character.  As I've pointed out before, it was designed by Albert Kahn.
 The face is Neptune, the God of the Sea.
 A shield of Detroit graces above the Aquarium sign.  On it is Detroit's motto, "Speramus Meliora; Resurget Cineribus" which translates to "We hope for better things; it shall rise from the ashes".  I'm not sure where the first part comes from but I think the second may be a reference to the fire in 1806 that pretty much destroyed the city.  But I think the motto may be appropriate for the Aquarium as well.  Maybe some it will emerge from the ashes.
 A closeup of the face at the entrance.
 A closeup of one of the columns to the side of the entrance.
 Looking up at the seal.
 Looking up at the details above the entrance.
 When the aquarium closed in 2005, it was the oldest aquarium in continued existence in the country.  Unfortunately parts of it showed its age but I think it was pretty cool.
 Looking inside the aquarium.  The glass ceiling was deliberate.  It would be lit from skylights and was green to give the impression of being under the sea.
 I was actually surprised by the number of tanks that they had open.  I think there were about 10 or so.  I have to imagine it was a good deal of work to get it to this point.  I want to thank the people that put in the efforts to make this happen.
 One of the other fish.
 I think this is a map turtule.  I kind of wish the picture was a little clearer because I like the turtles pose.
 A tortoise.
 A small nurse shark and some fish.
A closer shot of the shark.  I think this is the fish that I was most surprised about.
 I'm not sure what kind of fish this is.
 Some of the tanks just had exhibits in them.
 Another one of the tanks.
 These are the koi from the pond that is by the conservatory.  They use the basement tanks to store them during the winter.  I am guessing that is part of the reason why the aquarium is in as good of shape as it is.
 Looking at the hallway from the other side.  I really love the look of the cieling.
A couple more fish.

From the brochure that was provided by the group, it sounds like they are planning some major renovations in the spring.  I hope that the turnout from yesterday, those renovations and some other things that are happening lead to a more permanent situation for the aquarium.  It would be a shame to let another one of Detroit's treasure fall to the wayside.

Once again, I would like to thank the group of people that put this together.  Maybe someday I might be able to see the eel tank in its full glory again.


Isaac said...

Wow, it looks great in there!

Jennifer Boardman said...

Thanks for coming out! We are delighted by the support and great turn out. We will continue our efforts to open "one tank at a time" and further proof that this aquarium is important to us. Let the Belle Isle Conservancy know that you would like the Belle Isle Aquarium reopened as soon as possible!