Thursday, April 23, 2009

Face to face with KLs sharks

While we were waiting for our appointment with Petronas's skybridge we headed to Kuala Lumpur's aquarium in the convention centre convienently located for the very tired (we slept through our alarm remember) between the hotel and Petronas. Tickets cost 28 RM (about 7-70USD or 13-80NZD) which is considerably cheaper than Kelly Tarltons (Aucklands aquarium) and as we were soon to discover almost as good. The only thing missing was Kellys colony of penguins, instead we were treated to small aquaria of spiders...

scorpions, geckos, huge millipedes and centipedes and lizards...

and a huge tank of some of the Amazons and the Mekong Deltas giant fish including the Arapaima and the giant Mekong Catfish both fast becoming a rarity in the wild. Sadly over fishing of their young fish mean not many reach the gigantic sizes they are capable of.

Malaysias aquaria is especially involved in turtle and terapin conservation programs including the rehabilitation and subsequent release programs. These turtles are tagged and tracked to help build data on their migratory patterns. Collating data on individual turtles also helps establish exactly how many of this ancient species we have left.

Turtles walked the earth 96 million years before humans yet studies have shown that turtles may have as little as 10 years left before extinction if something is not done about their continued collection for illegal trade, use for food and habitat destruction.

Sea turtles get caught on swordfish lines 10 times more often than on hooks baited for tuna. So simply choosing to consume less swordfish could reduce the market demand and thus reduce the impact on the critically endangered leatherback.

Aquariums like this give those of us, who have not yet managed to graduate from snorkler to scuba diver, a chance to get up close and personal with some of the seas more intriguing creatures.

The extra long, 90 meter, fibreglass tunnel (the largest in South East Asia) that takes you through a huge pool, home to over 3000 marine animals including some huge cownosed stingrays, rare sand tiger sharks, grey nurse sharks, an endangered fresh water tortoise saved from a cooking pot, a monkey eating (apparently-I'm glad we didnt see that!) catfish, a morea eel or two, a blow fish and assorted other colourful swimmers.

The whole complex is quite big with several large and many small tanks to meander around. Near the end is a viewing mat where people could sit in respectful quiet (which they did kids in pushchairs included) and watch the inhabitants of the biggest tank duck and dive in their own personal patterns in a kind of underwater highway system.

It was so peaceful just sitting watching the watery ballet unfold in front of us that we sat for quite a while before the call of a New Zealand Natural ice cream got the better of us.

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