Top 10 must-see aquariums around the world
Saturday, December 7, 2013, 8:09 PM
Building a large scale aquarium from the ground up is no overnight project. It can take years to go from initial design to opening day. A number of critical details are taken into consideration, ranging from the animals' welfare to what tanks they should be kept in -- all in an effort to give visitors the feeling as though they've stepped into a majestic underwater world.
With so many spectacular public aquariums across the globe, chances are you won't get the opportunity to visit all of them in your lifetime. So we've taken on the task of bringing the best and biggest aquariums to you!
Dive in and take in the sights of 10 of the world's best aquariums:
10. Shanghai Ocean Aquarium
The Shanghai Ocean Aquarium (SOA) is one of the largest aquariums in Asia. Located just steps away from the Oriental Pearl Tower, SOA is divided into nine different sections, each representing a different part of the world. Each zone of the aquarium is specifically designed to replicate the natural surroundings of the featured aquatic animals.
Among the most popular is the China zone, which houses an array of endangered Chinese marine species, most of which are rare breeds from the Yangtze River.
And here's a fun fact about the aquarium: it is home to an Oranda goldfish named Bruce (after actor Bruce Lee), which measures over 435 mm in length!
9. Georgia Aquarium
With more than 10 million gallons of water, The Georgia Aquarium is home to more animals than any other aquarium in the world. The facility houses 120,000 animals, representing 500 species, through a path of more than sixty exhibits.
The aquarium's notable specimens include four young whale sharks, who live in a 6.3 million gallon tank in the Ocean Voyager zone. Georgia Aquarium is the only indoor aquarium that features whale sharks, outside of Asia.
8. The Aquarium of Western Australia
With a nickname like 'the land down under' you'd expect nothing but the best from Australia. Located in a coastal town just outside of Perth, the Aquarium of Western Australia (AQWA) is the largest public aquarium in the country and the tenth largest in the world.
With more than 40 exhibits, the aquarium specializes in marine mammals that inhabit the 12,000-kilometre coastline of Western Australia, including: saltwater crocodiles, eagle stingrays, sandbar whaler sharks, and black tip sharks.
And if observing from the outside is simply not enough, with just a small additional fee, guests can jump into the waters with a dive master and get a closer look!
7. The Dubai Mall Aquarium
The Dubai Mall is the largest shopping mall in the world, so it's only fitting to have an aquarium built within it, right?!
The viewing panel withstands the pressure of 10 million litres of water and gives visitors clear view of the 33,000 marine animals on display. The Aquarium is free to all Dubai Mall visitors.
6. Aquarium of Genoa
Located in the old harbor area of Genoa, Italy, the Aquarium of Genoa is the largest of its kind in the country and among the largest in Europe. The aquarium's 70 tanks pose as various marine and terrestrial habitats from across the world and provide a home for more than 6000 animals.
The tanks resemble the natural environments of various places around the world, including the Indian Ocean, Mediterranean and the Red Sea. The Aquarium of Genoa welcomes more than 1.2 million visitors per year, with the seal, dolphin and shark tanks being the favourites among guests.
5. The L'Oceanografic
The marine complex located within the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain features the largest aquarium tank in Europe. More than 45,000 marine creatures freely swim throughout nine underwater towers, structured on two levels.
Each tower is built to represent different ecosystems from across the world. The 111,000 square metre building holds more than 500 different species including fish, mammals, birds, reptiles and invertebrates.
4. The Monterey Bay Aquarium
Perched at the edge of the Pacific Ocean coastline is the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Home to 600 species, the California aquarium attracts more than 1.8 million visitors each year. The aquarium has maintained its status as one of the best in world, thanks to two centerpieces: the Ocean's Edge Wing and the Outer Bay Wing.
The Ocean's Edge Wing is a 10 metre high, 333,000-gallon tank for viewing California coastal marine life. There, visitors are able to inspect the creatures of the kelp forest at several levels of the building. While the Outer Bay Wing comprises of a 1.2 million gallon tank and features one of the biggest single-paned windows in the world.
The Monerey Bay Aquarium features an array of sea animals including stingrays, jellyfish and the ocean sunfish.
The Turkuazoo aquarium in Istanbul, Turkey opened its doors just three years ago, thanks to public funding. Situated inside the Forum Istanbul Shopping Mall, it is considered the nerve centre of marine and aquatic research in the region.
Visitors at Turkuazoo enjoy more than 30 exhibits, including one exclusively for tropical seas, another dedicated to flooded forests, and a separate one for rainforests. More than 10,000 sea animals including giant stingrays, tiger sharks and piranhas call the aquarium home.
2. uShaka Marine World
Based in the South African city of Durban, uShaka Marine World plays host to the fifth largest aquarium in the world. The underground aquarium holds 32 tanks, featuring a full range of sea creatures - from large sharks to miniature seahorses.
And with so much to see, those bound to get hungry don't have to worry about missing a thing. The one-of-a-kind 'Cargo Hold' restaurant allows foodies to enjoy wonderful meals while surrounded by a massive shark tank!
1. Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium
If you're ever in Japan, then you won't want to the miss the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium. Part of the Ocean Expo Park, the main exhibition at this facility is the Kuroshio Sea. It holds nearly two million gallons of water, and has a magnificent 8.2 by 22.5 metre acrylic glass panel, making it the largest panel of its kind when it opened back in 2002. Whale sharks and manta rays can been seen swimming alongside many other fish species in the main tank.
Since July 2010, a total of four manta rays have been born in the aquarium, as part of their conservation program.
HOW IT WORKS: Check back tomorrow for our feature on the world's weirdest sharks.