Tank that brings ocean to eye level draws hundreds in Dartmouth

A catch-and-release touch tank set up in a kiosk at Alderney Landing on weekends its celebrated 1,000th visitor Saturday in Dartmouth.

Temporary catch-and-release touch tank celebrated 1,000th visitor at Aldeney Landing on Saturday

A starfish is just one of many sea creatures visitors can see and hold at the Back to the Sea touch tank. (Jonathan Villeneuve/Radio-Canada)

A catch-and-release touch tank kiosk celebrated its 1,000th visitor Saturday at Alderney Landing in Dartmouth and its founder hopes one day it can become a permanent fixture.

The Back to the Sea Society has been in operation for more than a year and has also brought portable touch tanks to Fisherman's Cove in Eastern Passage, the Halifax Central Library and Hope for Wildlife.

The tanks contain species found around Nova Scotia such as star fish, clams and anemones. 

The touch tank first opened during the Natal Day weekend and the plan is to close up after Labour Day weekend. (Jonathan Villeneuve/Radio-Canada)

"This is our way to be able to bring the ocean up to eye level because unless you're a diver and going into the ocean going face-to-face with the animals, it's hard to know all the animals that we have living in our ocean close to home," said founder and executive director Magali Gregoire.

Donated space

Gregoire said Alderney Landing offered a free space to the society in a smaller building outside of the main one along the waterfront.

The pilot project first opened over the Natal Day weekend and the plan is to close up after Labour Day.

Magali Gregoire, Back to the Sea Society's executive director and founder, says Alderney Landing allowed her to set up in this space along the waterfront free of charge. (Jonathan Villeneuve/Radio-Canada)

The cost of admission is by donation.

She said so far she's received a lot of positive feedback from visitors to the tank.

1,500 visitor goal

"Even people who have lived here all their lives have always had the ocean as their backyard, they're actually really surprised to see some of the animals we have," said Gregoire.

"People are surprised to find some of these anemones in our waters. And so a lot of people know them from Finding Nemo, it's what Nemo lived in and we have the cold water species and they are actually related to jellyfish."

The Back to the Sea Society's catch-and-release touch tank celebrated its 1,000th visitor on Saturday. (Jonathan Villeneuve/Radio-Canada)

In the short term, she said she would like to see 1,500 visitors total by the time the tank closes this year. 

"In the fall we're going to evaluate and see what we're going to do next year and work towards opening our permanent location," said Gregoire.

About the Author

Anjuli Patil

Reporter

Anjuli Patil is a reporter and occasional video journalist with CBC Nova Scotia's digital team.