First off, happy Fourth of July (in 3 days) to all of our loyal readers, fans, and customers! Now that summer is fully upon us, many people are getting ready to set forth on some highly anticipated vacations. We made a post a while back about some of the top aquariums to visit in the United States. If your travels are taking you abroad, you may find this article of particular interests because here, we’re going to share a bit of information with you regarding five of the best aquariums worldwide. We’ve stretched things out quite a bit such that every continent other than North American and Antarctica are represented by a great aquarium in this post.
Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo
To get the ball rolling, we’ll introduce to you the Dubai Mall Aquarium, located in the United Arab Emirates. This is a relatively small country on the northern portion of the Saudi peninsula. As its name might imply, the Dubai Mall Aquarium and Underground Zoo is located within the Dubai Mall, which is one of the largest in the entire world. This mall is so big that it includes well over 1,200 different retailers1. Enough about the mall though, we’re here to talk about the aquarium.
The Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo first opened for business in 2008. It is the second largest aquarium in the world, containing 2,640,000 gallons worth of tank space. It features in excess of 30,000 different animals representing more than 140 different species2. The shark and ray population alone exceeds 400. In 2010, one of the shark tanks sprung a leak and this led to a bit of pandemonium. The entire mall had to shut down until repairs were made, but fortunately due to some very skilled workers, this was accomplished in a very small amount of time.
This is an aquarium that truly has something for everyone. There are special events for children of all ages as well as for thrill-seeking adults. Diving lessons, caged snorkeling, glass bottom boat rides, and a “shark walk” are just a few of the special experiences offered there. In the case of the shark walk, visitors have the option to use scuba gear along with an instructor to walk among sharks in a metal cage, or, if they are bold enough, to swim among the sharks sans cage.
One of the most notable attractions at the Dubai Aquarium is King Croc. King Croc is a 1650lb crocodile who has been relocated from his somewhat troubled (mostly by him) former home in Australia. Another important aspect of this aquarium is its Conservation Team. The Conservation Team is made up of a group of highly dedicated individuals who care deeply about and do their best to promote the cause of ocean conservation. Anyone with a true passion for this cause is welcome to join the team.
uShaka Marine World
Representing Africa is uShaka Marine World, located in Dubai, South Africa. This aquarium was launched in 2004 and is presently the fifth largest aquarium in the world. 32 enormous tanks are included, along with over 618,000 cubic feet of water. It is actually a full theme park offering several restaurants as well as a water park with rides, slides, and pools for kids (and adults) of all ages.
uShaka Marine World offers a much-needed place of peace and harmony to an area that has seen a great deal of discord over the past several decades. Its clientele is nearly as diverse as its residents and everybody is just there to have a good time and leave their differences behind. Guests of all ages and backgrounds enjoy the restaurants, water park, and of course the marine life, all of which lies within the one aquarium.
Visitors to uShaka Marine World are treated to face-to-face meetings with dolphins and seals, as well as getting to have the experience of directly feeding sharks and rays. Like the Dubai aquarium, uShaka also offers shark cage encounters, snorkeling, and scuba lessons among its many thrilling experiences.
Special exhibits are set up which allow patrons to see and learn all about some of the most dangerous creatures the water has to offer. Lionfish, sea snakes, and many sharks are all on display. Non-aquatic species may be viewed as well, such as anacondas, Burmese pythons, poisonous toads, scorpions, and many other monsters of the surface world.
Outside of the aquarium lies uShaka’s private beach. This beach has been voted the safest in all of Durban3. Visitors can enjoy swimming, beach volleyball, or just laying back and working on their tans. Another feature offered at the beach is the Calypso Dive, a special program allowing patrons to scuba dive among the beautiful native coral reefs.
Aquarium of Genoa
For our third aquarium, we’ll head to Europe to introduce you to the Aquarium of Genoa, which, predictably enough, is located in Genoa, Italy. It’s the ninth largest aquarium in the world today and it has been in operation since 1992. It was built specifically for the 1992 World Exhibition of Genoa but has proven to be so popular that it’s been running ever since. There are over 70 different tanks in total and the vast majority feature sea animals native to the Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea, and the Indian Ocean.
One notable exhibit was inspired by Christopher Columbus, who was a native of Genoa. This exhibit focuses on the coral reefs of the Caribbean Sea and those of the Ligurian Sea. The point of the exhibit is to show off a New World meets Old World/East meets West experience to in microcosm recreate the experience of Columbus and his crew4. Also on display are large tanks filled with playful seals and dolphins who love to ham it up and show off for all visitors.
The Aquarium of Genoa is an institution that loves to entertain its guests while also educating them about the sea and about different cultures. One exhibit which accomplishes just that is the Pianeta Acquario, which shows off the plant life and even the human experience of some of the most exotic and tropical locations in the world.
The Aquarium of Western Australia
Come along with us to the Australia to visit the fourth aquarium on our list. The Aquarium of Western Australia (often abbreviated as AQWA) is located in the city of Hillarys in the province of Western Australia. It first opened its doors in 1988 and as of the time of this writing, it is the tenth largest aquarium in the world.
This aquarium holds almost 800,000 gallons of water and also features an underwater tunnel that is over 300 feet long. Guests are allowed to walk through this tunnel and enjoy the experience of being completely surrounded at all angles by exotic and fascinating marine life.
A recurring theme throughout the Aquarium of Western Australia places a special emphasis on the five unique and diverse areas of the coast of Western Australia, which vary much more than one might expect. One of its most captivating exhibits is based on its native coral reef, which is one of the largest in the world. Corals, reef fish and stunningly beautiful plants and creatures treat viewers to an experience they will never forget.
Another exhibit of note is the aquarium’s “Danger Zone”. This exhibit shows off some of the most dangerous and most venomous creatures of the deep. Stonefish, Moon jellyfish, clown fish, scorpionfish, several sharks, and Eagle stingrays are just a few of the many amazing resident species of this bad neighborhood.
As is the case with some of the other aquariums we’ve discussed, the Aquarium of Western Australia offers many breathtaking experiences to guests. Snorkeling and guided swimming with sharks are just two of the many thrills this aquarium has in store for its visitors.
Sao Paulo Aquarium
We’ll wrap up our little world tour with a visit to the Sao Paulo Aquarium of Brazil. This is the largest aquarium in all of South America. It’s yet another aquarium that is very friendly and inviting to all of its visitors and one that seeks to educate while it entertains. The Sao Paulo Aquarium first opened in 2006 and has since developed a resident population of more than 3,000 animals representing over 300 different aquatic species.
This particular aquarium maintains a focus on both freshwater and saltwater species in order for visitors to get to know all of Brazil’s indigenous water-dwelling animals5. Land animals, including lizards, snakes, iguanas, and alligators also call the Sao Paulo Aquarium home.
The Sao Paulo Aquarium enjoys renting out hall space for most any kind of event, specifically those that in some way pertain to the ocean. Parties of up to 300 people are welcome and are treated to complimentary food and beverages.
One of the most unique features of this aquarium is a special event called “Contanment”. Available year-round, Contanment is an event for youngsters with an interest in marine life and in animals in general. It is held at night with a simulated campfire and seeks to give children a look into the nocturnal lives of many sea creatures and even some mammals.
We hope that this guide will be of help to you if you’re heading to any of these fun and exciting destinations and want to get in a little bit of an oceanic experience in the process. We hope you have a great summer and enjoy any and all of the places where your travels may take you.
1. Author Unavailable
10 Largest Aquariums in the World
Touropia.com, January 21, 2014
2.Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo
3. uShaka Marine World
4. Author Unavailable
Aquarium of Genoa
5. Sao Paulo Aquarium