New aquarium will be filled with homemade saltwater - - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - |

New aquarium will be filled with homemade saltwater

JENKS, Okla. (AP) _ More than 750,000 gallons of saltwater will be needed for the shark, kelp and coral exhibits when the Oklahoma Aquarium opens March 1.

That saltwater won't come from a far off sea coast, instead chemists at the aquarium will mix dechlorinated Tulsa tap water with salt from Texas and Ohio.

Beau Dempsey, the water chemist and lab director for the $15 million Oklahoma Aquarium being built along the Arkansas River in Jenks, will oversee the operation.

``It would be too expensive to haul saltwater from the oceans,'' Dempsey said.

Coastal aquariums that use sea water usually have it shipped in from 10 or more miles offshore to avoid coastal pollutants, he said.

Even if sea water were obtained by ship, trucking it to Jenks would require dozens of trucks, and that's just to fill the aquarium.

That cost would be reflected in how much visitors had to pay for tickets to the aquarium, Dempsey said.

Coastal aquariums that use fresh sea water charge nearly double the $9.95 per adult ticket that the Oklahoma Aquarium will charge.

Dempsey and his crew mix the salt and water at a concentration of 32 parts per thousand parts water to create the perfect saltwater for the bull and lemon sharks and other saltwater creatures.

Salt has been trucked to the aquarium site for the sea water mix and stored outside until time for mixing.

Dempsey expects that it will cost $56,000 in salt alone for the first-time filling of the sea water tanks. That's about 10 cents per gallon.

The aquarium will recycle its sea water during cleansing operations, saving on water and salt bills.

After the tanks are filled Dempsey and his staff will check the sea water several times a day to make sure it maintains the right chemistry.


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