AQWA the Indian Oceanarium

Underneath the aquarium

Just north of Perth at Hillary’s Boat Harbour is AQWA an Oceanarium that introduces the visitor to marine life that is found around the Western Australian coastline.  When you consider Western Australia has a coastline exceeding 20,000 kilometres and waters ranging from the cold Southern Ocean to the tropical Timor Sea, you realise that there is a great variety of marine life on display there.

The aquarium has been open since 1988, when it was best known for its dolphin shows.  In 2001 there changed their focus to feature the type of marine life you would find around the WA coast so that there is no longer a dolphin show.

The main feature is a large aquarium called The Shipwreck Coast (because many ships have floundered on the WA coast over the years), underneath which is a tunnel which spectators move along in order to admire the marine life that is just inches away, safely ensconced behind plastic.

There are about 400 different species of fish of fish moving about the aquarium, including eight different types of shark, some of which look to be very dangerous indeed.  Thankfully, all species are well fed, so the sharks don’t seem to consider us humans to be too edible.

One of the most vicious-looking sharks is the Grey Nurse, so called because they round up, or ‘nurse’, schools of fish into small areas before attacking them.  Female grey Nurse Sharks only give birth to one pup, but that is only because that pup has devoured its siblings within the womb, so they start off life with that killer instinct. One other small point regarding sharks, they have a very good sense of smell.  In fact, it is so good, your average shark can smell 10,000 times better than can a human.

Leafy Seadragons

One of the other displays at AQWA is called Danger Zone.  WA has a lot of marine creatures that use a variety of techniques for killing or maiming prey, and which can also be dangerous to humans should we wander into their domain at the wrong time.

If, as a visitor, you want your own danger zone, you can arrange to snorkel in the big tank with the sharks, stingrays and other creatures.

It’s not all danger at AQWA; there are some truly superb creatures on display that are actually quite timid.  Take the Leafy Seadragon, which is quite common in West Australian waters.   They look like seaweed, and can successfully hide in seaweed, but they are a bony fish, just like tuna or salmon.  Leafy Seadragons are voracious eaters, consuming about 1,000 mysid shrimps eat day, which they vacuum up through a long snout.  The male Leafy Seadragon is a perfect father, as it is he, and not she, who carries around the eggs on its tail.

There are many displays at AQWA, including living coral reefs, and some incredibly beautiful jellyfish.

As AQWA is located at Hillary’s Boat Harbour you can make a good day out as Hillary’s has a good, safe swimming beach, amusements of various sorts and lots of shops and restaurants.

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