Why Is A Local Aquarium Making The Rounds In Chicago?

Jul 16, 2018

An Ohio River education and watchdog group is loaning its mobile exhibit to Chicago's Shedd Aquarium for the summer.

The Ohio River Valley Sanitation Commission, ORSANCO, uses its traveling aquarium to teach people about aquatic life in the Ohio River. Shedd Aquarium reached out to the group after hearing from Chicagoans who wished they had a similar way to learn about the Great Lakes watershed.

"They all said, 'It would be great if there was an aquarium that was sort of like an ice cream truck that could go into different neighborhoods in the city of Chicago because not all Chicagoans get to the lakefront,'" says Vice President of Learning and Community Jo-Elle Mogerman.

The Shedd staff did some research and found ORSANCO's Life Below The Waterline traveling aquarium. Executive Director Richard Harrison says ORSANCO was "thrilled" to help out.

"The traveling aquarium will provide a unique and enjoyable experience for the residents of Chicago to view the diverse Great Lakes aquatic life," says Harrison.

While ORSANCO stocks the 2,200-gallon tank with fish and animals it catches and later releases, Shedd is taking its own animals on the road. Mogerman says it was easy to adapt the aquarium to fit Shedd's needs.

"We have a flatbed truck that is towing the aquarium, and that flatbed truck has a water chiller, a water filtration system, a generator, so it actually models the kind of life support systems that we have at Shedd."

If everything goes well this summer, Shedd may get its own mobile aquarium for future use.

"We'll have the great benefit of having the relationship with ORSANCO to understand what that would look like for us," says Mogerman. "The vehicle is wonderful."

The traveling aquarium returns to Cincinnati this fall.

Shedd Aquarium says Chicagoans asked for a way to bring the aquarium to the people when they can't make it to the Chicago lakefront.
Credit Courtesy Shedd Aquarium

Shedd Aquarium says Chicagoans asked for a way to bring the aquarium to the people when they can't make it to the Chicago lakefront. Courtesy Shedd Aquarium