Situated on the banks of the Yarra River in Melbourne Australia is Sea Life Melbourne, essentially the Melbourne Aquarium, which specializes in exhibits that showcase creatures inhabiting southern waters and the Antarctic. Upon entering the aquarium, we were given a map detailing the route through 14 exhibits spread over 4 floors.
The exhibits begin with the Bay of Rays, which focuses on sea life found right in Melbourne’s backyard and depicts marine creatures that reside deep beneath the waves of Melbourne’s iconic Port Philip Bay. Next up were the rockpools that allowed us the opportunity for a hands-on experience as touched different creatures such as Sea Stars. Venturing through the aquarium we viewed huge stingrays, massive sharks, and beautifully colored fish in huge floor to ceiling tanks. Included in this area is a walk-through tunnel that essentially takes visitors through the middle of a tank, giving us an interesting perspective as we looked up and saw impressive sharks and stingrays swimming overhead as well as all around us.
One of our favorite exhibits was the Coral Atoll, which is a little slice of the underwater ecosystem inhabiting coral reefs. The colorful coral and fish in the large display were beautiful, and it was a treat to say ‘I found Nemo.’ Dory, too.
Moving on from the coral reefs, we were guided through exhibits featuring crocodiles, rainforest amphibians such as frogs, and reptiles such as snakes and turtles, all of which inhabit different regions of Australia.
It is evident that education is the cornerstone of Sea Life Melbourne. Display boards are posted throughout the exhibits to inform visitors of the marine life they are viewing. Additional displays challenge kids to ‘Get Really Close’ to the tanks and find the certain features on the fish that are detailed on the educational display boards.
In addition to educating the public about the different inhabitants of the ocean around Australia, Sea Life Melbourne takes great pride in the conservation work they do to protect and sustain the beauty within all oceans. Throughout the exhibits, displays detail what Sea Life Melbourne is doing to protect marine creatures, and it provides information to the public regarding what they can do in their own lives to reduce negative impact.
The final exhibition, the Penguin Playground, brought guests face-to-face with the King and Gentoo penguins that inhabit Antarctica. The Penguins have a huge enclosure full of snow and ice, as well as a pool for swimming.
These penguins are fed twice during operating hours, at 11:30 am and 2:30 pm. We were lucky enough to witness a feeding, where an aquarium employee educated the public about the penguins and explained the feeding procedure.
Tickets are reasonable, with online saver tickets starting at $33.60 (Australian Dollar) and the option to add a Meet the Stingrays experience plus a Glass Bottom Boat tour for $55.45. A Meet the Penguins encounter can be had for $149 per adult and a more extreme hands-on experience exists with Shark Dive Xtreme, where thrillseeking visitors can come face-to-face with huge sharks and stingrays.
Our trip to Sea Life Melbourne was an eye-opening experience to the diversity of land and marine life inhabiting Australia and surrounding areas. With the combination of educational display boards throughout the exhibits plus presentations delivered by the Keepers, we now have a wider appreciation for the beauty in our backyard!
Review and Photos by Daniela Tantalo
(with the exception of the crocodile)