Within two weeks of its reopening, at least a hundred marine fish have died at the Taraporevala Aquarium. The main reason is the usage of ‘filtered’ water directly sourced from the Arabian sea, resulting in high salinity and pollution in the fish tanks.
A visit to the aquarium on Tuesday revealed that two blue star fish have replaced all the jelly fish in a special sleek tank that had showcased the latter.
While high turbidity was observed in the Cat fish and Arowana fish tanks, the tanks, which until a week ago, had Grouper fish of different kinds was empty.
“Sea horses are back on display, but unfortunately the jelly fish and some other fish have died,” admitted Vijay Shikare, curator of the aquarium, who says the problem is only with the marine fish section. He blames the ‘pollution in the Arabian Sea’ for the problem of fish deaths.
While officials claimed there were no deaths on Tuesday, the previous two days saw 25 and 19 fish die. “The total number of dead fishes could be a hundred,” said one of the officials, who did not wish to be named.
Officials working on the fish tank displays said that at least 600 fish had been removed so far and the losses incurred so far could run into several lakhs.
Water for the tanks is sourced from the Arabian sea after filtering at the filtration plant. But sources said that there is a problem with the filtration plant and besides being faulty, it simply filters the water, but the sea water around Mumbai is extremely polluted.
“These are exotic fish bought from Bangkok and Malaysia and are kept in quarantine at 1.8 TDS (total dissolved salts) salinity. But the salinity in the tanks is as high as 24 TDS. These fish were matured at much lower salinity at the quarantine facility at the aquarium are bound to be killed,” said one of the officials.
The casualty so far includes angel fish, jelly fish, sea horses among other species of fish.
The fisheries department had spent Rs 22 crore on the aquarium, where a signboard announces that the tunnel aquarium is one of its kind in India. Some of the fish that have died were from this tank. The aquarium was shut in March 2013 and reopened after two years following the revamp. The aquarium sees an average of 6,000 visitors a day on weekends and 4,000 on week days.
Fisheries commissioner M B Gaikwad said that ticket sales have been reduced to manage the crowd. Visitors can now book tickets only between 10 am to 1 pm, and 2-5 pm.
A number of instructions have now propped up on the gate. “In case of overcrowding, ticket booking window timing may be reduced at short notice or in case of less crowd turnout, timing may be extended. Visitors will be allowed inside the aquarium only up to 5pm. There are only 16 marine and nine sweet water fish displayed and a tropical section only on the ground floor at this aquarium,” they read.
These instructions are put in place to ward off visitors who keep asking for more tanks and displays on upper floors, based on fake photos making rounds on Whatsapp groups, said officials.