Staff desperate to save Picton's aquarium from looming closure are planning a sit-in protest.
Today could be the last day EcoWorld Aquarium & Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre opens to the public.
And in a last-ditch effort to save the visitor attraction managing director John Reuhman is organising for supporters to occupy the foreshore site.
The devastated owner says he will do anything to save the animals and staff jobs.
"This is not about me, people may say I'm being greedy but I'm prepared to walk away from this if it would save it," he said.
"This isn't about money, it's about the institution, the hard-working staff, the animals we care about.
"They [Port Marlborough] have said they will change the locks but surely they won't lock us all in.
'I'll do a shout out for people to come and join us, enjoy a movie. Of course, we will need to vet those that come in but we have a lot of support out there, more than 5000 people have signed the petition to save the aquarium and cinemas."
Chief Executive Rhys Welbourn says Port Marlborough is disappointed that the EcoWorld business has publicly stated that it will not vacate its port premises following the expiry of its lease.
All offers of help have been thwarted, he says.
"All offers made by Port Marlborough to EcoWorld have been more generous than the contractual position requires of us, and have been made in good faith, to assist them at the end of the agreed lease term.
"We have acted in accordance with our values when negotiating with EcoWorld and will continue to do so."
Reuhman says Port Marlborough has ordered Picton's aquarium and cinemas to shut down from midnight today.
He launched a bid in the High Court on Friday to stop the closure.
"Port Marlborough should respect the legal process, act in good faith, be kind and wait for the judge's decision," he said.
"We are going to do an occupation to try to save it all. It's a crazy situation."
Port Marlborough has offered to assist EcoWorld shut down and to find new homes for the animals.
But Reuhman says the offers of help come with unreasonable terms including surrendering the building immediately.
"Yesterday we got another brutal letter from Port Marlborough's lawyers," he explained.
"The successful aquarium and cinemas business and building will be destroyed. The land animals will be re-homed, most of the marine animals will have to be put down.
"It's very personal and painful."
Port Marlborough says it will take appropriate action should EcoWorld remain on the premises as they would be occupying the site illegally.
It says it would be obliged to take steps to retake possession of the premises through court action in a manner which is sensitive to the welfare of the animals.