Considering the vast array of new aquariums popping up in the United States, it seems fair to see a new facility opening up in Canada, as well. Of course, there are no new zoos or aquariums opening to my knowledge, however I figure this could be a fun little hypothetical thread. So without further adieu, here are my ponderings for a small Canadian aquarium: The facility would initially start off small. Funded through personal funds, donations and most likely loans, starting budget would likely be in the range of $400,000 to $750,000 CAD. The facility would be exclusively indoors and take up around 6 to 13 thousand square feet. It would be located centrally within the province of Alberta, as although not a choice vacation location, there is a large populace in the major cities, and many people coming through the province for a variety of reasons. Additionally, there are no major aquatic based zoological attractions. The closest is Sea Life Caverns housed in the basement of West Edmonton Mall, however that is a very brief 15 minute visit to the small, ageing facility, and there are limited opportunities to present a solid educational impression to visiting guests. In summary, a standalone aquatic facility without the restraints placed upon it by poor management and a location non-permissive of major expansion would likely be a valuable addition to the Alberta Zoological community. The main layout of the on display space would be shaped like an equally sided capital "L". There would be 3 large "premier" exhibits, along with a variety of smaller enclosures. The first exhibit, and main draw to the facility, would be a climate controlled habitat centred around sub-antarctic islands. The following species would be housed within: Commerson's Dolphin King Penguin Macaroni Penguin Magellanic Penguin Grey Gull Imperial Shag Commerson's would be sourced from Aquatica Orlando, along with Toba Aquarium and Sendai Umino-Mori Aquarium in Japan. Penguins would more than likely come from Seaworld along with the Commerson's. The gulls and shags would be kept in breeding flocks, the Gulls acquired from AZA or EAZA zoo's, and the Shags collected from the southern tip of South America. The habitat would be spread out over two portions. The first, on display portion would consist of above and below water viewing for the animals. A beach for the penguins would be constructed from faux rock, a small "cliff" would occupy the back wall of the habitat, proving burrows along the bottom for the magellanic penguins, and nesting space further up the cliff for the Macaroni's, Gulls and Shags. The water portion would consist of faux rock walls, with larger rocks, artificial kelp, and black rounded river stones covering the bottom. Not only is this more pleasing to the eye than the sterile blue tanks popular with cetaceans, it also provides a more enriching environment for all animals involved. Above, built into the ceiling are several large double paned sky lights to provide natural light, with a moveable blinds housed between the two panes (similar to the caiman exhibit at the Vancouver Aquarium). This would permit full control of the light cycles to ensure proper molting and breeding synchronization of the penguins. In addition, there would be several panels the are capable of either lifting or sliding open. During the early spring, fall, and winter, these could be opened to allow the animal access to outside air, and also allow snow and rain to enter the exhibit, adding both a fun seasonal change for visitors and variety to the animals lives. Behind this main exhibit, would be a much simpler second pool system for the commerson's dolphins. Consisting of smooth, tan colored walls and floors, this back pool can be divided in two via a removable net wall, and is accessible via two underwater gates leading from the main pool to the back. The primary use of this pool will be for the housing of females with new calves, along with enabling animals to remove themselves from public view and simply offering the ability to create various social groupings for the dolphins. Water will be filtered via bio-towers, sand filters, UV chambers, and ozone. This, coupled with occasional mechanical algae scrubs, will eliminate the need for any chemical additives, and also permit the dolphins to build up their immune systems thanks to the more bio-active water conditions similar to a fish housing system, as opposed to the hyper sterile conditions popular at certain marine parks, which have the potential to create animals with stunted immune systems due to the extreme sterility of their pools. This has ended up being much longer winded than I originally intended, so I shall continue on with further exhibits in later posts! I look forwards to hearing everyone's comments, suggestions, and criticisms!