When you think of an aquarium, you might imagine a tank of 20 o 30 gallons of water in someone’s living room. However nice a home setup is, it is nothing compared to some of the biggest and best public aquariums in the world. We will now take a closer look at 10 of the world’s biggest and best and what makes them so special.
The Aquarium Of Genoa
The Aquarium of Genoa based in the Italian city is one Europe’s largest aquariums. Seventy different tanks pose as various terrestrial and marine habitats from across the globe and house in excess of 6000 animals. The tanks represent areas such as the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea and the Mediterranean and the most spectacular and popular with visitors are the ones that hold seals, dolphins and sharks.
The Shanghai Ocean Aquarium
Benjamin Linh VU
One of the largest in Asia, the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium features nine different sections, to represent different areas of the world, including Australia, Antarctica and China. The China Zone is particularly special as it homes many endangered Chinese marine species, many of which are rare breeds from the Yangtze River. The most popular part of a visit to this aquarium is the underwater tunnel, which at 155 metres is the longest tunnel underwater in the world.
The Aquarium of Western Australia
This public aquarium in a coastal town just outside Perth is the largest in Australia. This aquarium is 40 m by 20 metres and holds a total of 793000 gallons of seawater. A 98-metre long underwater tunnel takes up some of the space, to allow visitors to get a closer look at the many species of fish and shark towards to the bottom of the shark. If this is not close enough, visitors can pay a small additional fee to accompany one of the aquariums dive masters into the main tank to swim with the residents.
UShaka Marine World
Based in the South African city of Durban, UShaka Marine World is a theme park that features Africa’s largest aquarium. This features 32 tanks and houses a full range of sea creatures, from large dolphins and sharks to small sea horses. The design of the aquarium looks like an old shipwreck and has several cafes and restaurants. The most interesting restaurant is The Cargo Hold as it features a full size wall aquarium that houses sharks that diners can view while eating their food.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium
This aquarium is in Cannery Row in the town of Monterey in California. There are many different eye-catching exhibits, but there are two in particular that attract the most attention and with good reason. In the Ocean’s Edge Wing of the aquarium, there is a 10 metre high, O.3 million-gallon tank that allows you to view marine life from coastal California. While in the Outer Bay Wing, there is 1.2 million gallon tank that features one of the biggest single-paned windows in the world. Visitors can view a wide selection of sea life above and below the waterline including sea otters, jellyfish and stingrays.
As the name suggests, this aquarium is in Turkey and is the country’s first large, public aquarium. Situated inside the Forum Istanbul Shopping Mall in the Turkish capital Istanbul it features tropical sea, flooded forest and rainforest zones. There is a spectacular 80 metre long underwater tunnel and has 29 exhibits that house around 10,000 aquatic species including piranhas, giant stingrays and tiger sharks. The largest exhibit holds a total of 1.32 million gallons of water.
This Spanish aquarium is located within the City Of Arts and Sciences complex in Valencia. It officially has the largest indoor aquarium in Europe and is home to well over 45,000 creatures. There are nine underwater towers, built on two different levels to represent different marine ecosystems from throughout the world. Two of the underwater tunnels connect with a 35-metre tunnel belonging to a tank that houses 1.85 million gallons of water, rays and sharks.
The Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium
This aquarium is part of the Ocean Expo Park in Japan and first opened to the public in 2002. The main exhibition known as the Kuroshio Sea, holds 1.981 million gallons of water, and has a spectacular 8.2 by 22.5 metre acrylic glass panel that is 60 centimetres thick. This was the world’s largest panel of its kind around the time of the aquarium’s opening. The Kuroshio Sea contains many different fish species alongside manta rays and whale sharks and since July 2010 4 manta rays have been born in the aquarium, as part of their conservation programme.
The Dubai Mall Aquarium
Dubai is one of the world’s most spectacular cities, so it is no surprise that it is home to one of the largest and busiest shopping malls in the world and that within this is one of the world’s largest aquarium tanks. This particular tank can hold up to 2.64 million gallons of water. The aquarium is home to combined total of around 400 rays and sharks and officially became the owner of the world’s largest acrylic panel.
The Guinness World Record breaker measures a staggering 8.3 by 32.88 metres and is 75 centimetres thick, beating the Okinawa by a considerable amount. The aquarium attracted unwanted attention when in February 2010 the main tank had a leak, which meant officials evacuated the mall and shut it down for a brief period.
The Georgia Aquarium
This is officially the largest aquarium in the world and features in excess of 10,000 different marine creatures. The aquarium received a donation from Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus of $250 million to help open it in 2005. Georgia Aquarium is the only indoor aquarium to feature whale sharks, outside of Asia.
These sharks live in the 6.3 million gallon tank within the Ocean Voyager section of the aquarium. This has sparked controversy with wildlife experts and welfare organisations being concerned about the livelihood of whale sharks kept in captivity, which worsened by the death of two of the aquarium’s original whale sharks.
As you can see, there is a lot more to aquariums than that tank you have in your front room. They can feature large sea creatures including rays, sharks, dolphins and smaller creatures like the humble but beautiful sea horse. If you are looking for a spectacular sea life experience, you cannot go wrong with visiting any one of the top 10 aquariums in the world.