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Underwater museum makes a splash

A CEREMONY was held in Chongqing yesterday to mark the completion of China's first underwater museum, built in the Three Gorges Dam area.

The Baiheliang Museum, which cost 189 million yuan (US$27.6 million), is built about 40 meters below the surface in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River off the coast of Fuling City.

The structure protects a reef, which was created about 1,200 years ago, to measure changes in water levels.

The complex consists of the museum, a connecting passageway, an underwater anti-collision pier and an exhibition room on land.

Construction of the main part of the museum was completed in 2006, before the dam raised the water level last year.

Baiheliang, literally "White Crane Ridge," is a smooth stone ridge 1,600 meters long and 25 meters wide. It is engraved with inscriptions about China's longest river dating from 763AD in the Tang Dynasty to the early 20th century.

On it are 20 fish sculptures that serve as water-level markers and about 30,000 characters of Chinese poems from different dynasties.

It is claimed to be the world's oldest hydrographic survey device and is one of the four state-level national treasures in the Three Gorges area.

The museum opens to the public tomorrow.


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