VISITORS to the Whitsundays can now step off the plane and snap a selfie with the heart reef - before they've event left the airport.

Right in the middle of the departure lounge at Whitsunday Coast Airport sits the mini aquarium, which gives tourists a small taste of the wonders you'll find out at the Great Barrier Reef.

FISH: A sneak peak at the new aquarium, part of the Whitsunday Airport's $15 million terminal expansion.
FISH: A sneak peak at the new aquarium, part of the Whitsunday Airport's $15 million terminal expansion. Georgia Simpson

The aquarium has been a labour of love, and holds 30,000 litres of water and will house 439 tropical fish amongst the four tonnes of moulded coral.

It's taken about 18 months from the planning to fruition, and a total of 1,200 man hours have been spent getting it ready for the public to enjoy.

Advanced Aquarium Technologies are responsible for the masterpiece, and although chief executive officer John Langmead said the project had been on the smaller side, it was the first time they had installed an aquarium in an Australian airport.

FISH: A sneak peak at the new aquarium, part of the Whitsunday Airport's $15 million terminal expansion.
FISH: A sneak peak at the new aquarium, part of the Whitsunday Airport's $15 million terminal expansion. Georgia Simpson

Mr Langmead said there were 100 species of fish swimming around the tank, with all of them caught sustainable from the Great Barrier Reef.

"It's quite the attraction, a lot of people have been posing for selfies already with it,” he said.

The 'moulded' coral is made out of urethane, common in aquariums, with the water being turned over and filtered every hour.

FISH: A sneak peak at the new aquarium, part of the Whitsunday Airport's $15 million terminal expansion.
FISH: A sneak peak at the new aquarium, part of the Whitsunday Airport's $15 million terminal expansion. Georgia Simpson

The first year will be labour intensive for the mini aquarium, as all the levels are monitored around the clock, to ensure the survival of the airports very own under water eco-system.

The $350,000 aquarium is part of the $15 million terminal expansion which has seen significant upgrades at the airport.

The aquarium is the only one of its kind in Australia, and it's a feat Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Willcox is very proud of.

Cr Willcox said visitors would instantly think of the 74 islands in the Whitsunday archipelago, including the famed Heart Reef.

Travellers coming to and departing from the region by air will now be met with more toilets, bigger departure lounges, a larger baggage claim area, a 3D augmented reality and of course, the mini aquarium.

Council's general manager of Airports and Commercial Infrastructure Brian Joiner said 28 flights departed the airport each week, with three extra Virgin Australia services to Brisbane added late last year.


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