Guests will be able to swim with sharks at South America's largest aquarium

by Tom Anstey | 25 Aug 2015

The largest aquarium in South America, AquaRio, will open its doors to the public in March 2016, offering the chance of seriously close encounters with the site's inhabitants.

Designed by marine biologist Marcelo Szpilman, the 22,000sq m (237,000sq ft) development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is spread over six storeys (including a basement level) and will be home to 8,000 animals across 350 species of shark, sea turtle, sting ray and fish.

The aquarium’s largest tank, the 3.3 million litre O Recinto Oceânico e de Mergulho, will be 7-metres (23ft) deep. Members of the public will be able to dive with the tank’s sharks and other aquatic sea creatures. For less adventurous visitors, a traditional acrylic tunnel will pass through the bottom of the tank, where children will be able to take part in evening sleepovers.

The attraction in Rio’s Porto Maravilha was originally scheduled to open at the end of 2015, but construction delays meant the opening was pushed back to March. The R$90m (US$25.9m, €23.2m, £16.6m) development has been privately financed through partners and corporate sponsors. The development is designed to be eco-friendly, with plans to fully rely on solar energy production within a decade.

The aquarium will incorporate augmented reality (AR) into its programme, with visitors able to create a virtual aquarium and fish which will follow them round, acting as guides and answering questions about the different habitats. A specific AR area will be used as an education space to teach visitors about the aquarium’s inhabitants.

AquaRio has teamed up with the Research Center of Marine Biology at the University of Rio and will work to conserve endangered species and return them to Brazilian waters. The vast majority of fish on display will be caught from Guanabara Bay in the state of Rio de Janerio. Once open, the aquarium will employ around 250 people.

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The largest aquarium in South America, AquaRio, will open its doors to the public in March 2016, offering the chance of seriously close encounters with the site's inhabitants. Designed by marine biologist Marcelo Szpilman, the 22,000sq m (237,000sq ft) development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is spread over six storeys (including a basement level) and will be home to 8,000 animals across 350 species of shark, sea turtle, sting ray
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The R$90m development has been privately financed through partners and corporate sponsors
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