Take the plunge

Take the plunge

Ocean Park visitors can now see marine life closer than ever by swimming inside the huge aquarium


Young Post cadets Ben Chua and Eina Gurung snorkelling inside Ocean Park's Grand Aquarium.
Young Post cadets Ben Chua and Eina Gurung snorkelling inside Ocean Park's Grand Aquarium.
Photo: Felix Wong/SCMP
Ocean Park's Grand Aquarium is home to more than 5,000 fish from more than 400 different species. But this summer the aquarium has been opened up to one more species - humans.

As part of the theme park's Grand Aquarium Exploration programme, guests can experience first hand the wonders of marine life. The whole experience involves three major sections - an educational briefing on safety and aquatic life, a tour of the maintenance aspects of the giant aquarium and the actual snorkelling part.

Two Young Post cadets got the chance to try it out. Here's what they had to say about it.

We were escorted past a seething mass of people waiting to get into the aquarium. I couldn't help but feel important. Once inside, we were told everything we needed to know in terms of safety and general snorkelling practices (how to wear a snorkel, etc). Our educational adviser stressed the importance of fish preservation, and fully explained the rules regarding marine life in the tank.

After changing into wetsuits, snorkels and dive boots (all of which were provided), we were led to the tank and into the water. Reds, blues, yellows, oranges and greens bombarded my vision as fish of wondrous shapes and sizes swam past, only a couple of centimetres from my body. Small sharks moved ominously, yet somehow soothingly, through the coral reef that adorned the tank's sides.

Nothing could really have prepared me for this. Seeing the fish from behind a thick-glass window, and having fish brush past you in crystal-clear water, are two totally different things.

The only thing that could have made it better would have been if we were diving instead of snorkelling.

My only other concern was that, after the importance of the preservation of marine life was drilled into us so thoroughly, I was surprised to see that our marine guide took very little care around the coral reef. His fins scraped through corals on several occasions; as an Advanced Scuba diver, I have to say I was really shocked.

However, the corals were fake, so no real harm was done. Even so, you should practise what you preach: members of the public could see everything that was going on in the tank, and may have picked up a bad impression.

YP cadet Ben Chua

YP cadets Ben Chua (left) and Eina Gurung get some instructions before heading into the aquarium.

The Grand Aquarium experience began with a presentation from a speaker who gave us instructions on how we were suppose to snorkel in the aquarium.

Afterwards, we were told to sign a declaration form stating that we're in good health. Furthermore, we were told how to put on the snorkelling gear, diving mask and other equipment. It can be quite challenging to put on the snorkelling suit as it may be very tight and uncomfortable.

The most remarkable part of the experience came when the instructor fed the fish a jelly-like substance. Countless fish swam towards us. There were fish everywhere: blowfish, blue moonfish and raccoon butterflyfish were some of the more memorable-looking ones. In addition, there were bamboo sharks, which did make my heart race.

It was wonderful getting to know more about the sea world. It was something I had never experienced before.

YP cadet Eina Gurung

You must be 10 or over to participate. Those under 15 must be accompanied by a parent/guardian.

Applications can be downloaded at http://www.oceanpark.com.hk/html/en/park-experience/unique/underwater.html.



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