Donation of three large tanks makes big splash at UTRGV Coastal Studies Lab - Brownsville Herald: Local News

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Donation of three large tanks makes big splash at UTRGV Coastal Studies Lab

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Posted: Monday, March 26, 2018 12:45 pm

Fish at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Coastal Studies Lab have new homes, thanks to the donation of three large aquariums from a hotel in Austin.

Two 400-gallon aquariums already are on display at the lab on South Padre Island, located almost surfside in Isla Blanca Park. A 1,000-gallon aquarium will be added once a custom stand is built for it.

Shelby Bessette, program manager for the UTRGV Coastal Studies Lab, said the tank donations are worth a combined $20,000.

She had anticipated having to find grants to purchase new tanks, but a company called The Fish Gallery arranged the donations. When Bessette called the business to get quotes for new aquariums, they put her in contact with a Radisson Hotel in Austin, which wanted to donate tanks to a nonprofit organization.

"I was able to talk with them and get it set up to where they delivered it down here, so that was the only cost we took. The company, The Fish Gallery, delivered the tanks for us,” she said.

The two 400-gallon aquariums replaced eight smaller tanks.

Bessette anticipates the 1,000-gallon tank will be on display by the end of the year. Even when a custom stand for the aquarium is ready, though, the lab staff also has to find time to assemble it.

“The factor here is finding the slow spot in the season,” she said.

About 5,000 students a year visit the Coastal Studies Lab, plus thousands of others who tour its museum.

While the aquariums are the latest donation to the lab, the staff also is working to incorporate another donation – a Sofpool, with a 24-foot diameter meant for marine mammal rehabilitation.

“We’re trying to get the area set up, and that will be our new stranding areas that will take care of the dolphins,” Bessette said.

The stranding pool needs an awning, for which they hope to find funding.

The coastal lab has been open since 1973. The facility, along with the Ridley Floating Classroom, offers educational opportunities, enhances research and provides community outreach. To request a tour or book a marine discovery cruise, visit http://www.utrgv.edu/csl.

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