Since Patrick has not experienced the reef life here, and he will not get a chance to go snorkeling, we took a trip to the Aquarium of Western Australia just north of Perth on Sunday. It was also great for us to see the same fishes up close and personal, but safely. We did not have to worry the jelly fish swimming around us, or whether the reef sharks were getting too numerous, or whether we were drifting too far and at risk of being pulled out by the rip. So although a bit more sterile, it was much more relaxed.
The highlight of the aquarium is ‘the shipwreck coast’ aquarium. It is 40 metres long, 20 metres wide and 4.5 metres deep and holds 3 million litres of seawater. You can walk or stand on the conveyor belt through 100 metres of tunnel which wraps through the tank and the sealife is all around you. There are several species of sharks (nurse shark here), rays (including some gigantic manta rays), hundreds of fishes as well as turtles and eels. The tank is so large, that it was quite dark however and it was difficult for Mike to photograph.
Having swum over top of the rays up at Coral Bay, it was quite spectacular to be underneath as they swam directly over you in the tunnel. And being so close to the animals, you get a much greater respect for their size. The turtles are massive – you could ride on their backs – and their necks would even impress the Godfather!
Outside we caught the sealion training session. While they do not train them to do tricks for display purposes, they do train them. The keepers need to be able to handle the seals, and they also try to mimic some of the wild behaviours. The seals here were both born in captivity, so they also try to teach them what would be learned actions in the wild. One example is teaching the male to ‘bark’. This is not a trait they would do if not trained since they are not exposed to the normal activities which would induce it. Similarly, they teach them to jump which mimics the natural behaviour of avoiding predators (such as killer whales). Not quite the same motivation, but uses all the same muscle groups – kind of like us going to fitness classes!
And oh yeah, as for the rootbeer – they really DO NOT LIKE IT down here. So guess we’ll have to suffer through it on our own – wish you were here to share it with us J (I hear you’ve become a fan also)!!!