Vance Patrick, President of Friends of Belle Isle Aquarium (Photo: Marvin Shaoun/Model D Media)


The 10th annual Shiver on the River event was held on Belle Isle this past Saturday, and thousands of people came out to enjoy the beautiful weather on the island.

The Belle Isle Casino, Dossin Great Lakes Museum, U.S. Coast Guard Station, Belle Isle Nature Zoo and the Ann Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory were all open with different things to do for all ages. The party started at 10:00am and went until 5:00pm, but the biggest attraction was the Belle Isle Aquarium.

Having been closed since 2005 because of a lack of funding and upkeep, the oldest aquarium building in North America opened for one day only, with just 10 tanks full of aquatic animals. Over 4,000 people lined up, some still waited after the 3:00pm deadline of the proposed closing time.

(Chris Zadorozny/MJ)

Built in 1904 by renowned Detroit architect Albert Khan, the Belle Isle Aquarium has 60 tanks and a volume of 32,000 gallons. Many of the tanks that were empty were filled with different facts about the aquarium, projects done by children, Boy Scouts and just Detroit and Belle Isle memorabilia.

The Belle Isle Conservancy consists of these groups: The Belle Isle Botanical Society, Friends of the Belle Isle Aquarium, Friends of Belle Isle, and the Belle Isle Women’s Committee. With a $65,000 grant to repair the roof, the aquarium is inching closer to reopening permanently, according to aquarium historian Jennifer Boardman.

(Chris Zadorozny/MJ)

There still is no timetable on when the aquarium could officially re-open, but assuming they receive enough money, time, and staff to repair the building and get it ready, don’t be surprised if it opens in late summer, early fall, or even late 2012 if we are lucky.

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