|Ancient Minoans were the first biologists|
he Board of Directors of the Greek Centre of Marine Exploration is proceeding to a new expansion of the CretAquarium. The new design as it was explained by the General Manager Mr Michalis Papadakis, while interviewed for In – On magazine, makes provision for open pools containing new fish species as long as tours aided by experienced staff. It was also stressed that CretAquarium started its function on December 2005.
It belongs to the family of big European Aquariums and it gives its visitors the opportunity for a unique “dive” to the wonderful marine world of the Mediterranean Sea. From the huge sharks to the tiny sea horses and the phantasmagoria of meducas, the variety of marine life is illuminated in all its splendor. All is surrounded by underwater landscapes resembling the Cretan Sea, namely the Rocks of Matala (South Crete) and the seabed of Vai (Southeast Crete).
The simulated scenery of the Mediterranean Sea is supported by 32 water tanks of total quantity of 1.600.00 litres of sea water and 50 different observation spots of more than 200 Mediterranean species, allowing therefore, the visitor to “explore” the beauty of the sea at full length.
Modern audiovisual systems and pioneering interactive appliances such as information – points with touch screens, help the visitor get informed of the habits and habitats of the species through experience.
One can, also, tour in the inner part of the water tanks using underwater remote control cameras.
The automatic system of tour quidance provided in seven languages in a form of a simple telephone appliance, offers the visitor’s the opportunity to retrieve information and comments according to time and preferences.
To the visitor’s disposal, there is a series of posters on the on the CretAquarium walls, presenting topics, which regard sea life and ecosystems.
Additionally, it was added that the unique “big” or “small” secrets of the Sea World of the Mediterranean Sea are revealed, offering fascinating pictures of a so close, yet, unknown world.
Education – Sensitizing According to Mr Papadakis, the educational programmes that address pupils of Primary and Secondary Education, have already started since February 2008. These educational programmes are especially attractive to the pupils, since they have the opportunity to observe not only living beings but also simulations of oceanic phenomena under the supervision of experts.
In fact, the pupils can observe a “Sea Laboratory”, established in a specially – designed room, where they can explore the invisible world of the sea, the tiny plankton for instance, though the use of stereoscopes and microscopes.
Therefore, the movements of the oceans, through experimental simulations are taught, while the younger pupils can also play educational games. To this end, the knowledge acquired in the “Sea Laboratory”, is combined with the exploration of the Mediterranean eco-system and its inhabitants.
Mr Papadakis also mentioned that in co-operation with the European network of EUR-OCEANS, which investigates the climat’c changes in the marine eco-systems educational material was sent free to all schools of Crete. The material contained various marine topics, activities and easily – made constructions that can be realised at schools, and even a script competition ensuring that the best one will be released by a professional production group. At the end of the school year, a festival is to be held presenting marine themes as well as pupils’ projects. For more information visit www.cretaquarium.gr or telephone 030 2810 337888.
Moreover, there is a specially – equipped hall with audiovisual systems of the latest technology that can hold 130 people, ideal for conferences, meetings, social activities, exhibitions or lectures. Daily during the opening hours, the visitors can watch documentaries in the conference hall, regarding eco-systems. It is worthvisiting the Snack – Café, where one can enjoy coffee, refreshments or snacks. In the Aqua Shop, a variety of souvenirs and gifts inspired by the marine world and ecology, are offered, satisfying all tastes.
Aims – Objectives
Mr Papadakis stressed on the aims and objectives of the CretAquarium as a place of entertainment that offers not only a unique, fascinating sight but also an informative and educational point the Mediterranean marine environment, through the use of equipment of the latest technology such as graphics, interactive techniques, modern multimedia etc, attractive to social groups of all ages.
In the context of educational activities, prior concern is given to the development of original educational programmes for Primary and Secondary Education alike, aiming at reinforcing a co-operation with both centres of environmental education and schools.
These educational programs are applicable to the curriculum, providing the pupils with knowledge and experience which stems from the observation of the marine world and is aided by modern technology and laboratory techniques.
It should also be noted that the nationalities of the visitors are the following: Greek 47,50%, German 11,80%, English 9,60%, Dutch 4,90%, Russian 3,70%, Polish 2,80%, French 2,40%, Czech 2%, Belgian 1,80%, Italian 1,70% and Swedish 1,70%.
During Prehestoric Era in East Mediterranean, 2000 BC, an important experiment was conducted that led to a wealthy and sophisticated civilization on the island of Crete. The legendary King Minoan from Knossos, gave his name to this civilization that lasted 600o years. During his reign, magnificent palaces became the centre of religious and economic life as well as the Flourishment of high quality creative art.
Minoan Crete of that Era, being self-supporting and economically sufficient, ruled over Aegean Sea and maintained its influence and stability, providing to be an important Naval Power. The surrounding natural marine environment and its mysteries, highly impressed the inhabitants of Crete. The power of such an attraction is depicted in reproductions thematically related to marine world and its beings. Actually, in the middle of the millenium (1.500-1450 B.C), there was an important development in the artistic way the marine the mes were presented, known as the Era of “Marine Style”.
This period is characterised by a plethora of reproductions of sea creatures on fresco paintings, vases, pots, vessels, jewellery, sarcophaguses and engraved stones, fully detailed and realistically depicted that even 3.500 years later, the scientists are enabled to identify the exact type and name of the species that the ancient artist presented. Moreover, shells and fish bones decorated the holly treasures in the impressive and elegant palaces, accompanying the dead during their “last voyage”, as well.
The sensitivity of Minoan Art that is not only merely decorative, includes all elements of a narrative synthesis that allows one to concider that Ancient Minoans were the very First observers of the magnificent Marine World, and why not, the first marine biologists.
A series of destructive events, natural disasters and invasions resulted in the fall of this extraordinary civilization and finally to its total catastrophe and disappearance. The beautiful pictures of dolphins, fish and octopuses on ceramic material and small art objects were replaced by simple designs, respectable for their technical approach, without inspiration, though. The Dark Ages that followed marked the great Minoan achievements for ever, some of which survived through centuries offering a glimpse of the splendor of this amazing Era.
Mr Michalis Papadakis is the Director of CretAquarium “Marine World” since 2004 while from 2000 to 2004 he was responsible for Development and Substructure in MBIC.
From 1987 to 2000 he was the Administrative and Financial Manager of Marine Biology Institute of Crete and Secretary of the Scientific Council from October 1987 until December 1997, supervising 25 people. One basic obligation was the contribution to the developmental design of the Institute.
The Institute is a non-speculative constitution with an average annual budget of 4.402 million euro and 120 people personnel, responsible to materialize 40 competitive projects every year. The principle is 90% self-supporting and only 10% of the budget is provided by national subsidy. It is an independently administrative constitution, whose direct responsibilities include: the development, the design and the observation of the Department of Administrating Projects (European, Competitive, Developmental, Educational, International, analyzing the cost of private projects, services and products).
– Construction of budgets
– Head of financial Services
– Head of funding
– Head of salary /wages paying
– Responsible for the Department of Products and Services Promotion and Technology Transport
– Head of Development
– Head of Administrative Services
From 1992 until 1995 he realised Contractive Studies on Atlantic and Mediterranean Fishery, a programme Financed by the European Union Materialization by Mare. as.
In 1980 he completed Post Graduate Studies “Diplome d’ etude approfondies (DEA) in the field of Economics and social development specialised in: Politics and Development programming at the University of Paris I, Sorbone. In 1976 he graduated from the School of Business and Economics in Thessaloninki, Business Administration Department.