The second-largest aquarium in Europe, with 7 million liters of total tank capacity, opened in Antalya on Tuesday with a reported 1,000 visitors in its first hour alone.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Antalya Mayor Mustafa Akaydın said the Antalya Aquarium -- whose construction on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) model was started on Nov. 29, 2011, in the Arapsuyu Olbia Canyon -- had cost TL 85 million.
Underlining that these kinds of projects help Antalya go beyond a tourism strategy based on sea, sand and sun, Akaydın added: “The aquarium complex has more than 40 themed aquariums, including world seas, Turkish seas, oceans, rivers, lakes and jellyfish, plus Europe’s longest aquarium tunnel, 131 meters in length and theee meters in width. And in terms of water capacity it is the second-largest aquarium in Europe.” Europe’s largest aquarium is Valencia’s Oceanográfico.
Antalya Aquarium has an open-air swimming aquarium situated on the rooftop that is covered with coral sand in a Maldives concept. The aquarium gives visitors the chance to swim with sharks and rays that are totally harmless to humans. Visitors will be able to feed the fish in the swimming aquariums, which they will enter with the assistance of a guide and in protective clothing.
One million visitors a year
İrfan Demirok, a partner in the Antalya Aquarium, stated that they are expecting 1 million visitors annually and are conducting talks with hotels and tour operators on including the aquarium their tour programs. “We want to be a center of attraction, not just an ordinary aquarium. In order to ensure that, we will offer several programs for schools. We have a veterinary hospital where fish and loggerhead sea turtles [Caretta caretta] will be treated. In addition to these benefits, the Antalya Aquarium will create 400 jobs,” he said.
The aquarium complex hosts approximately 40,000 aquatic animals and gives visitors the chance to touch some of them. Life-sized plane, ship and submarine wrecks are used for the decoration of the main tank.
The complex also includes “Snow World,” a special section of 200 square meters covered with snow and featuring igloos, a “Santa Claus” house and cafés.
Entrance fees to the Antalya Aquarium are TL 30 for adults and TL 23 for children.