Ocean appreciation

The Stanley Seaquarium is welcoming visitors until its closure on Sunday October 9. Diane Charles, Dianne Bellinger, Nina Korpershoek and Jeannine Binoth (absent) say the seaside attraction has been an exciting adventure and will be sorely missed by the community. Picture: Ashleigh Force. 

Aquaculture. An abundance of vibrant marine life awaits to be discovered at the Stanley Seaquarium before the seaside attraction will close permanently on Sunday October 9.

In the early days, Diane Charles and Nina Korpershoek would lead tours through the local factory when working with Stanley Fish in the early noughties.

However when these tours ceased the Stanley Seaquarium burst into life.

“No one had ever done anything like this before,” Diane said of the local project.

“Michael Hardy did a lot to set the place up, the whole Hardy family has supported us right the way through. And Frank Shreeves did all the plumbing and the [tank] windows, which was a big job.”

Over the years, the aquarium has received donations of marine life and artefacts, while local schools have designed murals to decorate the facility.

“It’s our little project, it’s very close to our hearts,” Diane said.

“We’ve learned a lot over the years, which species can live together and the conditions they prefer. It’s always survival of the fittest and sometimes it’s been trial and error.”

A variety of sea life including Karen the cowfish, Olivia the octopus, Harry the hermit crab, Dave the stripey trumpeter and Lorrie the lobster inhabit the discovery centre but among these creatures is a particularly interesting discovery.

Charlie the Tasmanian giant crab was discovered in the aquarium’s tanks two years ago and is believed to be the only one of its species living in captivity.

It is not known exactly how the deep sea creature came to live at the Stanley Seaquarium, although the women speculate he washed into the tanks through the filter as an egg.

Now two years old, Charlie has left his shell half a dozen times and is expected to live to 100.

“Seeing people engage, learn something new and understand and appreciate the ocean, is certainly very rewarding,” Diane said.

“We learn something new everyday!”

However there have been several hairy moments throughout their journey when some of the aquarium’s inhabitants have explored past the confines of their tanks.

“We’ve had a couple of octopus[es] and a few eels get out of the tanks and crawl around a bit,” Diane laughed.

“But it’s pretty exciting watching hermit crabs move from one shell to another.

“It’s been a really exciting journey, we’ll certainly miss it.”

Welcoming 20 visitors on average each day, the aquarium is most popular during the height of the tourist season.

“We are very rarely completely empty,” Nina said of the winter months.

“We’ve had schools, families, tour groups, all kinds of people visit. Just meeting the tourists and hearing their stories!”

Following the closure, the marine life will be donated to Woodbridge Marine Discovery Centre in the state’s south.

Open daily from 10am to 4pm, the Stanley Seaquarium will welcome visitors through the door for the last time on Sunday October 9.

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