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  • Crispin Till

    Email Crispin Till

    Reef, rainforest exhibits and 15,000 creatures great and small make a splash

    The Cairns Aquarium and Reef Research Centre has made a big splash in TNQ with more than 30,000 visitors passing through the tourism attraction since it opened its doors to the public two weeks ago.

    After six years, the $54 million Cairns Aquarium opened its doors on September 18 and it has been an instant hit with locals and tourists, with general manager Julie Cullen saying people were keen to tour the 10 life-like ecosystems, 71 live exhibits and see the 15,000 creatures inside.

    “Our amazing collection of weird and wonderful rainforest animals and marine life are without doubt the stars of the show,” she said.

    “We have been overwhelmed and delighted with the enthusiasm being shown by visitors who simply cannot wait to see what’s inside and in these very early days, it’s impossible to declare any one favourite animal or exhibit.

    “Every visitor has their own particular fascination or interest but for us, witnessing the look of joy on people’s faces as they make their own personal discovery, is a giant tick of approval for Cairns Aquarium.”

    The aquarium is owned and operated by founding directors Daniel Leipnik and Andrew Preston and is the first attraction of its kind to open in Australia in 18 years and away from just visitor numbers, Ms Cullen said the aquarium was playing another important role.

    “It is our belief that in order to instil the importance of respecting, protecting and conserving our precious reef and rainforest environments, we must first of all interest and engage people by providing experiences that promote understanding," she said.

    “This is particularly important in terms of creating awareness among visitors for those animals and plants that are critically endangered or rarely seen such as the emerald green tree monitors, freshwater sawfish, Jardine River painted turtles and the Oceanarium exhibit’s highlight - scalloped hammerhead sharks.”

    For more information about the aquarium and to purchase tickets, click here.