Monday, March 23, 2009
My Day at Manila Ocean Park
The Manila Ocean Park is intended to become "a marine themed park bringing together in one complex an Oceanarium, a mall, a restaurant row, boutique hotel, open water marine habitats and multi-purpose function facilities." The (8,000 square meters) oceanarium is said to be bigger than (6,000 square meters) Sentosa's Underwater World oceanarium in Singapore in terms of floor area but its 25-meters underwater acrylic tunnel is far shorter than Sentosa's 83-meters with moving travellator. The state-of-the-art Park had its soft opening last 29 February 2008.
The park has a huge lobby with huge photos of marine life to whet the appetite of visitors, and food stalls to fill the stomach too. Visitors make their way through a series of aquariums beside stairways and artificial waterfalls in a section named "Agos". There's a portion where visitors can touch some starfish. There are more marine life in the "Bahura" and "Laot" sections of the oceanarium. It's interesting that all the marine life in the entire park are found in Philippine seas. The underwater tunnel of the "Buhay ng Karagatan" section is the real feature of the tour. The stingrays are wonderful, like graceful birds flying in the water. You could almost touch the fish except for the glass that divides their world from ours. There are more sharks in the "Ang Kalaliman" section with an overhanging tank where you can see the bellies of various sharks. The multimedia facility has some interactive games.
The oceanarium is just the first phase of construction which will eventually include a hotel and mall, and open marine habitats. Already, it has the following sections open to visitors:
1. Agos (Flow) - a rainforest motiff complete with 8 tanks of freshwater fishes.
2. Bahura (The Reef) - exihibition of artificial corals in 48 tanks
3. Laot (Fishing Ground) - features big fish and Eagle-spotted rays in a long tank.
4. Kalaliman (The Deep) - showcases marine animals found in the deepest parts of Philippine waters.
5. Buhay na Karagatan (Living Ocean) - the main attraction of the oceanarium is a 25-meter long walkway tunnel with 220-degree curved acrylic walls similarly seen in Ocean Park Hong Kong, Singapore's Underwater World in Sentosa, Siam's Ocean World in Bangkok, Thailand and Kuala Lumpur's Aquaria in Malaysia.
6. Overhang Tank - variety of rays fly over while you're under this unique Overhang Tank.
7. Pating (Shark) - features several species of shark.
The Manila Ocean Park (MOP) is currently under construction behind the historical Quirino Grandstand at the Rizal Park.
Finally we have our own ocean park in the Philippines! I consider it very ironic that a country with one of the riches marine biodiversity does not have its own ocean park. I believe that having an ocean park will help educate the next generation and help raise the awareness of protecting the Ocean. I this as one of our greatest achievement as a nation.
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