Sydney Aquarium had a makeover last year. It cost $10 million and means the attraction now offers visitors the chance to see 13,000 marine animals from 700 different species. It also features new experiences like the Shark Walk, as well as a whole series of themed underwater worlds.
I was very impressed with the effort that clearly went into creating different atmospheres in each individual area. These aren't just rooms with a few tanks along (painted) walls, but have been designed to make you feel like you're completely immersed in the particular habitat.
The first zone you encounter is the Mangrove Swamps, a room decked out with with roots and trees. Other zones include South Coast Shipwreck, which looks like the inside of a ship, and Sydney Harbour, which resembles a wharf.
At the Bay of Rays you can see the largest combination of Australian rays ever displayed together, including Fantail Rays, the Blue-spotted Maskray and the White-spotted Guitarfish. This area is set up to evoke a tropical atmosphere.
Part of the setting in the Tropical Bay of Rays
SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium is not only focused on fish and rays though. Among its other animals are platypuses and penguins, while one section, called CLAWS!, is entirely dedicated to crabs and includes the very large Japanese Spider Crab.
The size of the Japanese Spider Crab had me in awe
After you've passed through all of these different zones, you'll come to the first walk-through--Dugong Island--which hosts two of only five captive dugong in the world (the others are in Asia).
Another resident to look out for here is Floaty the turtle. You will likely find her on her side at the bottom of the tank. But don't worry, she isn't dead. She has a bubble in her shell and has to wedge herself into tight places to make sure she doesn't float away!
At the Shark Walk, you get to walk over the top of the fearsome creature, while you will feel surrounded by them in Shark Valley. The Reef Theatre is the place to go if you want to see all the ocean's inhabitants at once, as you sit and watch coral, fish, sharks and sawfish in the Great Barrier Reef exhibit, which is the largest in the world.
The Reef Theatre has everyone enthralled
If you have kids, they may enjoy the series of questions located along the route through the aquarium, which make up the quiz trail. There's also the Discovery Rockpool, where they get to touch starfish, crabs, shells and more. For an additional cost, the family can ride of the glass bottom boat and feed the sharks or view the Great Barrier Reef from behind the scenes.
Third stop on the quiz trail
SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium is located in Darling Harbour, right next to Madame Toussads and WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo. The three attractions are all owned by Merlin Entertainments, so if you like SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, you may want to check these out too. Darling Harbour, of course, is a must see for many visitors to Sydney anyway.
Where: Darling Harbour (city side)
When: 9.00am to 8.00pm daily (last entries are at 7.00pm)
Cost: Adult: $38.00, Child: $24.00, Concession: $31.50 and Family: $120.00
Web:www.sydneyaquarium.com.au Phone: 61 2 8251 7800