Natalie comes face to face with some of Sea World’s newest residents and they are just a little bit scary.
Sharks are feared by most people, but the world's most feared predator is vitally important in ensuring the balance of the ocean's eco-system.
Thirteen million dollars was poured into Sea World's latest venture Shark Bay, which opened in April, 2004. The project gives a new understanding of the mysteries and misconceptions surrounding these majestic creatures. Sharks grow slowly, have late sexual maturity and reproduce in small numbers. The great white and grey nurse, in particular, has a fearsome reputation, but this is not necessarily deserved. Numbers are decreasing due to overfishing, finning, habitat destruction and pollution.
The underwater, non-invasive, observational research will assist in the preservation of sharks in all the world’s waters.
None of this would be possible without the wonderful filtration system Sea World has developed over its 30-year history. It is made up of mechanical, biological, chemical and UV technology. A total of 5.4 million litres of water is turned over every 90 minutes.
As visitors enter they are taken aback by the vastness of the lagoons and beauty of the exhibit. The mere glimpse of a dorsal fin protruding from the water is enough to give you goose bumps. The two-level exhibit provides wonderful viewing above and below water through three 10x3 metre windows, allowing you to come face-to-face with sharks, stingrays and a range of exotic tropical fish.
Touch Pools and the Inter-Tidal Zone give the chance to interact with some of the inhabitants. Between the high and low-tide marks lies a strip of shoreline which is regularly covered and uncovered by the ebb. You will see sea stars, pin cushion starfish, sea urchins, hermit crabs, sea cucumbers and grey carpet sharks.
A Rock Pool Adventure in the Inter-tidal Zone allows children to meet and touch a variety of inhabitants, including clown fish, anemones, rays and sea stars.
The Reef Lagoon houses some of the smaller shark species leopard, blacktip reef, nervous, epaulette as well as shovelnose and cowtail rays, moari wrasse, red emperor and a large variety of colourful reef fish.
You can scuba dive and snorkel there and learn more about the inhabitants as you make your way around following an innovative underwater education signage trail.
Shark Lagoon is home to larger and potentially dangerous animals, including tiger sharks, dusky whalers and bull whalers.