A new, innovative aquarium, the largest and most modern in the Mediterranean, is opening in Iraklion, Crete, in early 2005. Four thousand sea creatures, currently being kept in fish traps by the Fish Farming Institute, will be transferred to the 32 tanks that are ready. Seaworld is due to open by March at the latest. The new aquarium is expected to have more than 180,000 visitors a year and will be able to cater to more than 250,000 a year. On former base It was built by the Greek Marine Research Center (ELKTHE) on the site of the former American base at Vourna and its equipment includes 1.6 million liters of recycled seawater, 300 square meters of transparent walls, 50 observation points, as well as multipurpose rooms and restaurants. Special new tanks have been constructed for specific marine creatures, such as invertebrates, sharks, shellfish, mollusks, seahorses, sea anemones and live coral, Giorgos Chronis, ELKTHE’s president, told Kathimerini. «The aquarium has the advantage of research support from the fish-farming and marine biology institutes, which makes it one of the best in Europe,» said Chronis, who also revealed that approval has been given for the construction, due to start soon, of Calypso, the largest sea park in Greece. «It will be a vast area in Souda which will house fish farms, ecotourism facilities, hotels and other venues.» Rhodes aquarium The aquarium on Rhodes, until now the only one in Greece, has also done considerable research and educational work. Andreas Sioulas, head of the Rhodes Institute of Marine Biology, told Kathimerini that a renovation and infrastructure improvements have been carried out in the past two years, and that all systems have been automated. Meanwhile, a study for further improvements to the museum, including the addition of another tank, has been completed. Currently under way are a number of important research projects that place Greece among the foremost marine research countries in Europe. Through innovative activities by ELKTHE’s Oceanography Institute, Greece exports to the EU and the US expertise such as accurate weather forecasts by means of charting the physical, chemical and biological parameters of the sea. This is the Poseidon system, which is already in operation in the Aegean, and which, director of the Oceanography Institute Evangelos Papathanassiou told Kathimerini, will soon be used in the Ionian Sea as well. «The data collected by observation buoys will be transferred to ELKTHE’s operations center. Using computer models and working in collaboration with NASA, we will be able to predict weather conditions and rainfall levels in the region.» Efforts are being made to encourage Mediterranean and Black Sea countries to cooperate more closely in exchanging information so that they can deal more effectively in the future with issues such as overfishing and the use of agricultural chemicals on coastal crops.