A piranha at Tivoli aquarium

Diving in the I&J Predator Exhibit at the Two Oceans Aquarium

For Tony’s birthday in June last year we went diving in the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront.

There’s much to be said for diving in an aquarium – for one thing, the conditions are always perfect. You can’t get lost, and you will probably get to see a whole lot of creatures, all at once, that you either can’t see in the sea at home or that it’d be very unlikely for you to encounter on a single dive. Also, you feel like a bit of a celebrity having large groups of people watching you through the tank windows.

These videos were all taken in the two million litre I&J Predator Exhibit. I sat on the sand and watched the ragged tooth sharks, while Tony chased the tiny devil and eagle rays with his video camera.

The raggies are all female, and spend a year or two in the tank before being released back into the wild. They were chosen for the aquarium because they’re a species that has been successfully kept in captivity, and because their toothy faces fit the stereotype of sharks that most people have in mind. Their placid circles around the tank are anything but threatening, however.

The giant short tailed sting ray, Olive, was fascinating to watch (a video of her can be found here) but she sadly passed away late last year.

In addition to the ragged tooth sharks and rays, there are several large fish – musselcrackers, yellowtail, garrick (leervis), and kob. Some of the garrick in particular look a little the worse for wear… I wouldn’t want to share a tank with a shark!

A large school of sardines was introduced late in 2010 (after these videos were taken), and their manoeuverings have been lovely to watch.

The loggerhead turtle’s name is Yoshi. When we met her she was in the corner of the tank (I was allowed to pet her – her skin feels soft!) and Tony and I both thought that she seemed a little depressed. On my volunteer shifts, however, I usually get tea time to coincide with the predator tank feeding at 1500. Yoshi is full of beans then, and sometimes the diver who hand-feeds her has to fend her off as she swims her massive 120 kilogram body right over his head in pursuit of snacks.

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Clare

Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

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