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Manila Ocean Park 2016: The Oceanarium

13 October 2016

So, the first attraction that we visited was the Oceanarium.  The Oceanarium is one of the world's best public aquariums with over 14,000 marine creatures from the Philippines and South East Asia.  It has several sections, including its main attraction - a 25 meter long, 220° curved walkway tunnel - where you can see marine creatures all around you (left, right and above) as you traverse the tunnel.

It opens at 10AM and last entry is at 7:15PM.  Because of the size, it may take you an hour or more to fully appreciate everything here.


As you enter, an attendant will take a picture of your group as a souvenir which you can then pay for P200 and pick up at the photo booth outside of the Oceanarium (check the top photo).

These are reminders for visitors as you enter the Oceanarium.


We took a picture at this mural before the first section of the Oceanarium.


The Oceanarium opens with the Giant Arapaima and the Alligator Gar.  The Giant Arapaima is one of the largest freshwater fish in the world.  In the same tank are the Alligator Gar, which look like prehistoric fish.  Both species are air breathers which mean the both stay near the surface of the water and can survive long periods without water.


Giant arapaima (L) and Alligator Gar (R)
With the Giant Arapaima
The following pictures are of the Red Pacu or the Pirapitinga, South American fish that are related to the Piranha.  They do look similar but they apparently grow bigger than piranha.




Walk a little further and you'll find yourself in another area with four large tanks.

With Gourami and catfish




With Angelfish
With carp, catfish and a small ray

From here, we entered "The Reef" exhibit.  Most of the marine creatures are inhabitants of the reef in Palawan, including corals, sea horses, starfish, and small reef-dwelling fish.  Touring this area may take you around 15 minutes.


I've created a slideshow of the marine creatures so it's easier to view them.  I highly recommend taking your time here because there are a lot of tanks with a variety of colorful fish and creatures.  We saw puffer fish, sea horses, clownfish, "Dory" from Finding Nemo/Finding Dory and a whole lot more.  These are marine life that you wouldn't normally see, so it's really worth checking out.


The next section of the Oceanarium is the "Laot" or the "Fishing Ground".  Here, in addition to fish that live in deep reefs, you'll find other bigger fish and larger tanks.










In another side of the exhibit, you'll find a huge wall filled with the Giant Trevally or "Talakitok".  Forgive our photos since we're not allowed to use Flash.




In the same area, a section is dedicated to "The Deep", with exhibits of creatures that live in the deeper portions of the seas and oceans.  We were captivated by the tanks filled with moray eels.  There were so many of them, slipping and sliding, in and out of the rocks, jars and urns.




"The Deep" section also leads to the Oceanarium's main attraction - The Living Ocean - a 25-meter long tunnel that you can walk through and it's like being underwater.  Your depth perception may be a bit fuzzy here and it feels like you're walking through a vacuum. 





Walking through "The Living Ocean" is like being underwater.  You're surrounded by water and you can actually see the fish swimming around you.  We were lucky enough to have the tunnel to ourselves when the hoard of students on their field trip finished their tour.








Once out of the other side of the tunnel, you'll find yourself in a spacious area with extremely large tanks.  Closer to the tunnel are these: a school of milkfish and manta rays.



If you look up, you'll see sharks which are in the glass-bottomed tanks on the 2nd floor.  There are manta rays swimming about too.  They're just harder to catch on film.  This may be considered the "Ray" and "Shark" sections.  You can view them from the top via the 2nd Floor.


A popular stop is the "Magic Tank" where you can put your hand inside the aquarium and get to touch the fish.



In Dana's case, the fish touched her and she was surprised!


A little further on, you'll be amazed at the size of this gigantic tank filled with sharks.  The tank kind of wraps around so you'll see the tank from two sides.








So that's the last thing you'll see at the Oceanarium.  Once you exit, you can head up to the 2nd Floor where more attractions await you.  We took about an hour to go through all the sections but we had to contend with a lot of students (Elementary and High School) who were there on their field trip.  If you want to get good pictures without a lot of background people, then you may take longer during the visit.  It would be nice to come back again and really take a more leisurely stroll around the exhibit now that we know how to maneuver ourselves around the park.

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