Posted by: coolerbecky | August 30, 2010

Under the Sea

It seemed like a pretty day to go out, so I packed some box lunches and headed for the harbour with the intention of introducing Ablogqwer to the various animals that could kill him during his stay1. Tickets to the attraction were a little bit pricey, but were somewhat worth it.

Lured by the prospects of looking at KILLER SHARKS, which feature prominently in a lot of Sydney Aquarium’s advertsing, Ablogqwer and I made our way to picturesque Darling Harbour. Sydney Aquarium and Wildlife World are located at scenic Darling Harbour. Together, they showcase a lot of Australian flora and fauna. The Aquarium and Mini-Zoo do a fairly convenient double-attraction deal, so it was on the top of my list of things to do.

Let me state for the record that the KILLER SHARKS exhibit at the aquarium is both tiny and uneventful. If Sydney Aquarium were really serious about their advertising to foreigners, they should really get into advertising things like KILLER BEAVER DUCKS or perhaps MINI-OCTOPUS OF DEATH. The platypus exhibit at the aquarium is always really fun to watch. I could stare at those adorable beaver ducks all day if Ablogqwer hadn’t dragged me off to look at other things like cute baby crocodiles or pretty corals.

The passageway to the dugong exhibit warrants an extra mention for its highly disturbing mural. Whoever painted it had some sort of sick sense of humour. Unfortunately, I was unable to take a picture of the mural since there was no space in the passage to do so, so you’ll have to rely on your imagination and my skills of description to get a picture of it.

The mural starts at the top with a large sailing ship and several mermaids waving at some (noticeably) randy sailors. As you walk down the passage, you are treated to the view from below the waves. Some of the sailors have jumped into the sea to swim with the attractive mermaids. They’re holding hands in and smiling sweetly at each other. Then, further on, the sailor realises that the mermaid he’s holding is actually a dugong. By this point, it’s too late and you see the eventual fate of the sailor. He drowns and there’s nothing left but a skeleton. At the very bottom corner of this mural, a dugong and a mermaid are pointing at this unfortunate young man and LAUGHING.

That’s right. THEY MOCK HIM IN DEATH.

Disturbing.

That being said, the dugong exhibit is really worth looking at. Not only do they have the dugongs in a huge tank, which you can view from above or below, but the dugongs also spend the whole day eating, which means you’ll often be able to watch the dugongs getting fed vegetables. They consume a ton of cabbage every day or something to that effect – there were several stacks of cabbage-filled crates just outside the proper storage area for such things.

Sadly, the dugongs seem to have taken the place of the seal and sealion exhibit, which means that I no longer get to see seals playing in the water, a sight which I enjoyed immensely. Don’t get me wrong, dugongs are interesting creatures, but they do not frolic as seals do. I mean, they’re nicknamed sea cows for a reason – they don’t do much more than cows do either.

My only beef with the aquarium is its ambient darkness. Most aquariums have pretty dark interiors, which when combined with the constant soundtrack of rushing waves and that enya hippy spa music that they always play, make for a very sleepy environment. I often feel like I could fall asleep in them.

All in all, however, the Sydney Aquarium is worth visiting at least once, but I wouldn’t say it’s value for money. Ticket prices are very steep for adults and the exhibits, while well kept are not really all that great to look at. A lot of the more exotic animals are adept at hiding, which means that most of the exhibits leave you feeling as if you’ve been staring at empty tanks. A lot of the tanks were actually empty as well, which made me pretty disappointed, since I had to pay full price to look at closed down exhibits.

Incidentally, on our way out, Ablogqwer and I spotted this lovely puppet of a rare Australian marsupial shark2 in the gift shop. We were sorely disappointed to find that this creature was never featured in any advertising or in any exhibits.


1Come to Australia – you might accidentally get killed.
2If you were wondering, there is no such thing as a rare Australian marsupial shark.

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