Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Guided Tour of the Oceanarium at the Manila Ocean Park (Updated)

As expected, we were terribly behind schedule. With only a few precious hours before closing, we did not have enough time to dine at the Makansutra Asian Food Village and taste the flavors of Asia on a budget.

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Taming my cravings proved to be a wise decision for the Oceanarium was breath-taking! This world-class facility boasts of an array of marine life numbering to about 5,000 varieties from 300 species indigenous to the Philippines and Southeast Asia.  It was a fantastic way to experience life under the sea without getting wet! Let me take you to some of the marine species that have made a strong impression on me during our visit.


Giant Clam or "Taklobo." Nestled in the shallow coral reefs of the South Pacific and Indian Oceans, the giant clam is the largest living bi valve mollusk with a life span of up to 100 years. Its life-giving mantle serves as a habitat for single-celled dinoflagellate algae from which it gets 90% of its nutrition. 


Shrimpfish / Razorfish or "Isdang Laring-laring" or "Isdang Sikwan." Found in the shallow tropical portions of the Indo-Pacific, this fish type is luminous, flat and boasts of a long snout and a sharp-edged belly. With its trademark thin, dark stripe and ironic shrimp-like appearance, a school of shrimpfish swims in a synchronized manner with heads upside-down.


Firefish or Red Fire Goby. Normally found in the upper portions of outer reef slopes in the Indo-Pacific region including the Philippines, this fish type feeds on zooplankton, mostly copepods and crustacean larvae. Aside from its fascination with food, the Firefish also values its partner so much so that it stays monogamous for life.


Blue Tang. With its trademark electric blue color fused with bold black markings, the Blue Tang is without a doubt, a real beauty! Otherwise known as Palette Surgeonfish or Regal Tang, this fish type is native to reefs across the Indo-Pacific region. It feeds on seaweed and algae to maintain its over-all mobility and love for action.


Spotted Garden Eel. Drawn to live in small groups, these eels enjoy some alone time in the burrows from which they pop out and stay put if not disturbed.


Pinjalo Snapper. Reefs and rocky bottoms seem to be the snappers' favorite spots.  Here, they prey on planktonic invertebrates and small fishes for survival.


Humpback Grouper/Panther Grouper or "Kulapo" or "Panter." It's interesting to know that its trademark polka-dots serve not as a decor but as a camouflage to confuse would-be predators.  


Another nameless fish type yet overflows with graceful charm. A definite scene-stealer at the Oceanarium!


Longhorn Cowfish or "Baka-Baka." This fish type is not only popular for its long horns protruding from the front of its head but also for unleashing the deadly toxin ostracitoxin, which resembles red tide, when it's under stress.


Bluespotted Ribbon Tail Ray or "Pagi." It usually flourishes around coral reefs but migrates into groups in shallow sandy areas during the rising tide.


Luminously shiny and interestingly mobile, this fish type is a celebratory toast to the Oceanarium's vast array of marine life!


Common Lionfish or "Ranuy-ranuy." This type chooses lagoon and seaward reefs as habitats but hides in unexposed spots during daytime, immobile, and with its head down. The widespread pectoral fins are used not as mere decoration but as a trap for small fishes, shrimps and crabs.


Blackspotted Puffer or "Butete." Approximately 33 centimeters long, this fish type can survive between 12 and 25 years by feeding on corals, crustaceans, mollusks, sponges, tunicates and algae.


Reef Stonefish or "Sumalapaw." Carnivorous by nature, this fish type is found on sandy or rubble areas of reef flats and shallow lagoons and in small pools during low tide; well-hidden among the substrate and sometimes, even covered with algae.


Ribbon Eel or "Malibanos." It resembles a vibrant celebratory streamer with its black and yellow hues spanning to about 1.2 meters long but with expanded nostrils to boot.


Snowflake Moray Eel or "Igat." A large fish without any pectoral or pelvic fins, this type is particularly known for its strong body that swims flawlessly through waters as a snake does on land.

Shark or "Pating." Its mere presence has fascinated and frightened humans for centuries making it one of the most popular attractions at the Oceanarium. 


I walked slowly through the huge underwater viewing tunnel spanning 25 meters long with a curve at 220 degrees. I didn't want to make any sound that will disrupt the glorious solitude of the moment. It was just me and the fishes in this slice of marine paradise. 


Embraced by the quiet whisper from the water ripples all around me, I was brought back to my senses when I noticed that the fishes continued to lurk in the cool waters unruffled by my presence.


Whether flying solo or in a group, the strange busyness inside the tank was unmistakable. These fishes don't have an idea that the facility was about to close in a few minutes. Life is practically the same for them every single moment of every day.


By the end of our visit, I had a renewed appreciation for "life under the sea" like never before. Then I started to realize how truly blessed we are as a people to have these species present in our marine territories. I could only hope that this world-class facility will be preserved for future generations.

Come visit soon!


Oceanarium at the Manila Ocean Park
Website
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Location: Behind Quirino Grandstand, Luneta Park
1000 Manila, Philippines
Hours: Mon - Fri: 10:00 am - 7:30 pm; Sat - Sun: 9:00 am - 8:30 pm
Phone:   (02) 567 7777
Email:    inquiry@manilaoceanpark.com

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6 comments:

  1. Wow! You and your tot got to see the tunnel sans the crowd. Lucky you! By the way, I think the blue fish are regal blue tang fish. Like Dory of Finding Nemo.

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  2. Yeah. We were the last ones to see the Oceanarium that night. hihihi. Thanks so much for the info. I'll definitely put that in. Hugs!

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  3. Beautiful! I have yet to visit this place.Yup, the blue one is a Regal Blue Tang.My son loved Finding Nemo and we researched the name of the fishes before. Thats a good idea, visiting the place at night :)

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  4. Hi Alisa!Thanks for the info.Yes.I never realized that visiting it at night offers some tremendous benefits.hihihi.

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  5. Beautiful! I have yet to visit this place.Yup, the blue one is a Regal Blue Tang.My son loved Finding Nemo and we researched the name of the fishes before. Thats a good idea, visiting the place at night :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wow! You and your tot got to see the tunnel sans the crowd. Lucky you! By the way, I think the blue fish are regal blue tang fish. Like Dory of Finding Nemo.

    ReplyDelete