The Amazing Aquarium!

When Resort World Sentosa (RWS) submitted their plans for an integrated resort in Singapore, it included a marine theme park as well as Universal Studio. But when the casino opened it’s doors in January of 2010, the parks were still under construction. In fact it wasn’t until almost three years later did the integrated resort finally completed the Marine Life Park, which opened in November last year. (Goes to show where their priorities lie.) The Park has two attractions: the SEA aquarium and the Adventure Cove Waterpark.

Even before the opening, the Marine Life Park was surrounded by controversies. First the resort wanted to import whale sharks, then they dropped the idea after realizing that it wasn’t feasible to house them. Next they imported the bottleneck dolphins, and on the way to Singapore three of them died. Apparently the way the dolphins were housed at the mid-point stop in the Philippines was not humane. This caused an uproar among the animal lovers and there was a petition online to boycott the marine park which I joined in as well.

Recently my husband tried persuading me to check out the aquarium, saying that it is the biggest in the world and you can see fishes swimming around you. My friend, Mavis, who was there not long ago, also told me it was amazing. The aquarium is air-conditioned with dim lighting; in fact it was soothing that she felt asleep on a bench there, and was only woken up by the flash photography from a tour group.

Buddy is at an age when he is interested in animals, including fishes. When my husband showed him the koi pond in church, he was fascinated. He’s also interested in our neighbors’ pet dogs. I would love to take him to the zoo, but after the River Safari experience, when his eczema flared up because of the heat, I’m not sure if that’s a good idea. He is best suited to a cool environment, and so the aquarium seems to be a good option. Besides, I figured we didn’t have to view the dolphins, which apparently is separate from the aquarium. This way Buddy can see the fishes and other sea creatures in a cool ambiance. Yeah, it does sound like a cop-out reason, but what the heck. Anyway we went to the aquarium about two weeks ago, on a public holiday.

We should have expected there would be a crowd. First there was a queue to buy the tickets, then there was a longer queue to enter the building that houses the aquarium, and finally the mother of all queues – to enter the aquarium itself. I think we spent more than 1.5 hours in line that day. The picture below shows the queue to enter the building.

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Once inside the building, we still had to go down to the basement where the aquarium is located. On the way, we walked through a souk display (which is really a mini museum) showcasing the culture, produce and products of the maritime route of the Southeast Asia region. To be honest, the whole set-up is rather cheesy and amateurish; my husband explained that it was all for the tourists’ consumption. The real highlight is the aquarium.

Right after the entrance is a big tank showing a shipwreck scene and two divers. I’m not sure if the divers are feeding the fishes or just part of the act, but it did generate excitement among the crowd.

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The tank leads to a tunnel with fishes swimming next and above you; as if you’re in the sea but inside a cocoon.

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Fishes swimming beneath the visitors.

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The older iPhone camera can’t capture the beautiful corals and the muti-colored fishes as well as we had hoped.

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When my husband saw the tank full of these long-legged crabs, he thought “food”!

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The graceful sea-jellies.

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Finally the biggest aquarium before us!

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I have to say this humongous tank is more impressive than the one at the River Safari. According to Wikipedia, the acrylic viewing panel is 36-metre (118 ft) wide and 8.3-metre (27 ft) tall, and is intended to give visitors the feeling of being on the ocean floor. I can tell you this is how we felt; the experience was incredible. You see fishes, giant manta rays, and sting rays swimming at close range.

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Buddy was awe-struck by the fishes and the huge manta ray swimming right in front of him.

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When we were at the coral reef tank, Buddy was mesmerized by the colorful fishes.

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The last exhibition was the shark tank, and this is also shaped like a tunnel. You get to see different species of sharks around you, including the notoriously fearsome Hammerhead Shark.

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When we were inside the aquarium, we realized the reason for the long queue. Despite the control of the number of visitors inside, it was still pretty crowded. No way can you have a nap on a bench without being pushed aside. My advice to the readers is that you should go on a working weekday when there’re fewer visitors and you get plenty of time to take photos instead of jostling for room. Anyway there are a lot more exhibitions than what I have featured in my post; I highly recommend a visit to the aquarium.

I also want to credit that most of the photos shown here were taken by my husband. Despite the older iphone model, he was still able to take better pictures than me.

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