The state-of-the-art Royal Children’s Hospital in Parkville, Melbourne, was opened by Her Majesty the Queen on the 26th October 2011.
The 7.5-meter-tall cylindrical aquarium is one of several innovative facilities at the hospital. Collectively, these features supply positive experiences and support for the patients, who are mainly children and young adults.
The cylinder holds around 130,000 litres of saltwater. Inside, a central coral bommie is home to about 530 fish and 32 distinct species such as blacktip reef sharks, an epaulette shark and a hump head Maori wrasse named Garry.
The cylinder’s acrylic is eight centimetres thick, and the water temperature varies between 25.5 – 26 degrees Celsius.
Beyond the obvious value of the aquarium as a source of joy and wonderment for unwell children, the aquarium has an educational role to play too. For example, the Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation funded a creative publishing project, delivered in collaboration with an artist from the Kids Own Publishing and The Royal Children’s Hospital Educational Institute. Children at the hospital interviewed the aquarium diver, wrote fishy tales and drew beautiful watercolours of the fish.
Day to day, the aquarium is managed by AAT through the company’s Operations and Maintenance Service. AAT staff are on-site feeding the animals and taking care of animal welfare, monitoring and managing the life support equipment and cleaning the tank. When the divers are cleaning the corals and acrylic they spend plenty of time waving to the children, staff and visitors from inside the tank.