Giant fish display will cross the state in 2009; reservation deadline Dec. 19

PRATT -- The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) Mobile Aquarium made its debut in 2008, participating in three events: Meade State Park OK Kids Day, the Wichita Riverfest, and the Kansas State Fair. In its initial year of operation, the aquarium reached nearly 140,000 people, withstood winds more than 40 mph, and was awarded “Grand Champion Outside Exhibitor” at the state fair.

The purpose of the mobile aquarium is to increase public awareness and appreciation of Kansas’ fisheries resources, increase interest and participation in recreational fishing, and help KDWP staff stay connected with Kansans throughout the state.

The 40-foot long aquarium holds 3,200 gallons and is housed at the Milford Fish Hatchery. At events across the state, the aquarium displays many Kansas sportfish and non-game fish, including largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, white bass, striped bass, hybrid striped bass (wiper), bluegill, green sunfish, longear sunfish, channel catfish, blue catfish, flathead catfish, buffalo, common carp, walleye, sauger, saugeye, redear sunfish, black crappie, white crappie, longnose gar, spotted gar, and freshwater drum.

Viewers have a special chance to see native live fish up close, and fisheries biologists are on hand at display events to answer questions and demonstrate fishing techniques from the aquarium’s casting platform.

Development of a 2009 aquarium event schedule is underway. KDWP will hold four or five events in 2009, some of which will be selected from applications by interested groups. The remaining events will be chosen at the discretion of the Fisheries and Wildlife Division.

Event organizers who would like to include the mobile aquarium in their events in 2009 may apply online at the KDWP website -- www.kdwp.state.ks.us. Applications are due Dec. 19. For more information, go the website and type "mobile aquarium" in the search box.

Event organizers should keep in mind the large size of the 20-ton unit and ensure that they can meet the aquarium setup requirements prior to submitting an application. Setup requirements are located on the application. Additional information, photo galleries, news articles, a video, and event application are available on the website.