A Little More Light for the Seaweed

by Helene Louise  

Montreal has many wonderul attractions and one of them is the Biodome. Opened in 1992, the Biodome recreates four ecosystems found in the Americas. Visitors can walk through the four sections and see otters at play, capybaras resting on the sand and bats flying overhead. For the more curious, there is even a section where you can touch sea urchins, starfish and other creatures that we don’t often get to see up close. 

The Biodome was created in what was originally the velodrome for the 1976 Olympics. Since then, of course, renovations and updates have had to be undertaken, including the replacement of the 58 skylights that serve as a roof.  I read that the original acrylic skylights are slowly being replaced with newer windows made out of polycarbonate, a material used in the aviation industry. These modern skylights are improving the Biodome’s energy-efficiency, which is, of course, important in managing such a large facility in these times of higher energy costs and greater environmental awareness.  But, as it turns out, these new skylights have also had another unanticipated effect.  Apparently, the new skylights let in significantly more light than the original ones and the beneficial effect of this increase has been noticed even in the growth of the seaweed at the bottom of one of the exhibits.  

 As I explained in my book, what I have learned through my daughter’s rehabilitation, is the value of the little things—how an unexpected moment of kindness and compassion can make the difference between desperation and hope, how, over time, a new idea can make the difference between success and failure. And, how sometimes, the slightest change can have an unexpected impact for the better. 

I love the idea that despite the enormity of the Biodome, a change at the very top of the building is enough to unexpectedly make the life of the seaweed way down at the very bottom of the deepest tank just a little bit brighter.

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