Sun.Star Cebu <> Wednesday, January 28, 2009
BY NANCY R. CUDIS, Sun.Star Staff Reporter
RESIDENTS and tourists can now view features of the underwater world without spending too much time and money.
This, after a British marine biologist put up the first aquarium attraction in Cebu, part of central Philippines that scientists consider to be the global center of marine biodiversity.
Aided by his Filipino wife, Dylan Taylor opened to the public the Mactan Island Aquarium Museum in Barangay Basak, Lapu-Lapu City in October last year.
He said he invested “a few million pesos” in the 400-square-meter facility that features various sea animals, like seahorses, deadly octopus, eels, angelfishes, cowfish with horns and sharks, among others.
Most of them, he said, are found in central Philippines and are exported to public aquariums in other countries.
CHECK OUT THE WEBSITE OF MACTAN ISLAND AQUARIUM.
Taylor’s love for fish and the lack of aquarium attractions in the country prompted him to put up the new facility.
“We selected Mactan as there is a lot of interest in the sea here. There are many marine activities like scuba diving tourism, small-scale food fishing, aquarium fish collecting and exporting, marine sanctuaries and the controversy over destructive illegal fishing activities,” he said.
At first, the Mactan Island Aquarium focused on tourists. Taylor and his wife, Lucille, were surprised to discover that 90 percent of their customers are students and locals.
Taylor observed that there were only few tourists visiting the facility since they are only taken to places selected by their tour operators.
However, Lucille noted a growing number of foreign visitors—American, Norwegians and Russians, among others—who are coming on their own after learning about the aquarium through the Internet.
The facility’s admission fee is P250 for an adult foreigner, P200 for a child foreigner, P100 for an adult local resident, and P75 for a child local resident.
Dylan, who has more than 20 years of experience with aquariums, was involved in large aquarium projects across the world, including the National Aquarium in England, the aquariums at the Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai, as well as those in Saudi Arabia.
He said he intends on using the business to educate the public about the importance of marine life.
He added that he can also provide specialist knowledge of marine life to anybody who needs technical support with conservation initiatives.
Dylan said that he is currently in discussions with other parties for the possible expansion of the aquarium and the creation of a marine research station that he hopes will attract international researchers who are interested to study marine life in the region.
“The aquarium can be a showcase for the ongoing research projects so that the public would know more about developments that scientists don’t always make public,” he said.
(PHOTO OF WRITER BY ALLAN DEFENSOR OF SUN.STAR CEBU. OTHER PHOTOS BY NANCY R. CUDIS.)