The Danube Delta Eco-Tourism Museum Center In Tulcea

see museum site Tulcea, the town from "the eastern end of the country" also known as the town from the gates of the Danube Delta, has captured again the public's and especially tourists' attention through a new and attractive cultural and tourist sight: The Danube Delta Eco-Tourism Museum Center. The DDETMC is meant to be a complex cultural institution and it was founded through the joint efforts of Tulcea City Hall and of the Institute of Eco-Museal Research in Tulcea, as part of a project carried out through the Neighborhood Program Romania-Ukraine 2004-2006, in which important local and external financial resources were invested. The main objective of the center is to inform and to educate tourists and locals with regard to the natural and socio-cultural heritage existing in the Danube Delta; the center should raise the latter's interest and love for nature, as well as create a more attractive alternative in the educational process about/for the environment. Furthermore, it has the mission to promote ecologic tourism in the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve, as an alternative of sustainable development of this protected natural area. To this purpose, the Center will be the place where experience exchanges as well as transfer of know-how in the domain of eco-tourism development will take place, especially in view of establishing contacts between Romanian and Ukrainian local players. In a welcoming and relaxing high-standard environment with a new discourse, with modern facilities and ways of presenting information and exhibits, visitors have the opportunity to find out aspects that are representative for the Danube Delta, through interactive maps, reconstructions of the natural environment such as dioramas and aquariums, video presentations. These aspects pertain to: the history of the Delta formation, stages of habitation in the Delta, natural environment (flora, fauna, landscape), capitalization on the existing museum heritage, fishing as a traditional occupation of the inhabitants of the Delta illustrated through a mini-exhibition of fishing tools and a traditional fishing ground, as well as general tourist information. Species of flora and fauna of the Danube Delta are presented in a landscape that reproduces accurately the characteristic habitats of the three morpho-functional units of the Danube Delta: the river delta, the river-marine delta and the lagoon complex Razim-Sinoe; visitors are exposed to the marvelous nature in the Delta and can listen to birds songs coming out of every diorama. The permanent exhibition has also two other dioramas that present aspects characteristic to the habitats, the flora, the fauna of other protected Hall areas of national importance in the Plateau of Dobruja and it emphasizes the beauty of the National Park of Macin Mountains. The great biological diversity, the beauty of landscapes and the variety of forms of relief in these protected areas are reproduced through two of the habitats that are characteristic to Dobruja and protected at an international level through the EU Habitats Directive, namely: the ponto-sarmatic steppe and the forest of Dobruja. Among the species displayed in the dioramas, there are some birds that were declared natural monuments (pelicans, small egrets, spoon bills, shelducks, black-winged stilts), species of rare animals protected at a national and European level (the owl, the serpent eagle, the turtle of Dobruja, the ground squirrel), species that disappeared from the Delta and Dobruja (the bustard, the wolf) as well as new species that entered in the delta fauna (the raccoon dog, the jackal).The aquarium with invertebrates and fishes from fresh and marine waters is the main attraction of the Danube Delta Eco-Tourism Museum Center. A novelty for Tulcea and even for Romania is the existence of the aquariums with species of invertebrate fish that live in coral reefs. Through a system of two cylindrical aquariums, concentrically displayed, visitors, especially children, have the possibility to experiment what it is like to be in the middle of a reef for several minutes, surrounded by sharks, fish and corals with various and impressive colors which enthrall them. The same sensations can be lived by passing through the tunnel corresponding to the greatest basin of the aquarium, in which migratory fish are presented: sturgeons, which are believed to be the most primitive fish living on earth nowadays, as well as eels, known for the particular way in which they reproduce themselves: they travel thousands of kilometers to the Sargasso Sea to reproduce themselves only once in their life. Further information on the aspects presented in the permanent exhibition is available at the info-kiosks, placed on every floor, or through photos taken from the natural and archaeological sites, explanatory boards or through the presentation made by a special guide provided by the Center. In order for the Danube Delta Eco-Tourism Museum Center to become a favorite place of locals and tourists for entertainment and socialization, a series of facilities such as the playroom called discovery room (a playroom with toys and other educational objects for preschool children), the IT room with three computers connected to the internet and interactive programs, rooms for rest with wooden benches and rattan couches on all floors. The center has also a welcome room with free access, a café, wireless, and special facilities for people with disabilities, interior elevator and toilets. At the exit, visitors can purchase various souvenirs such as postcards, albums, maps, small artifacts made by the locals of the Delta. Although it has been open for public for a relatively short time (from the 25th of February), the Danube Delta Eco-Tourism Museum Center managed to attract 100,822 locals and tourists so far (coming from all over the world: Europe, North America, Asia), and at present it is the most visited museum in Romania. We had the joy and the honor to welcome his excellence Prince Albert the Second of Monaco, the ambassadors of Ukraine, Markiyan Kulyk, and of North Coreea, Choi Ihl-Song, ministers of the Romanian government, the renowned ichthyologists Teodor Nalbant and Eugene Balon (Canada), TV program presenters from Romania and Portugal. We wish that the visit to the Danube Delta Eco-Tourism Museum Center should become an unforgettable experience for the visiting public and tourists and that they have the chance to discover the beauty and the uniqueness of the Delta, to love it and to learn how to protect it! Translated by Fabiola Popa

by Cristina Dinu