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Tag / sharks

Last weekend when we stopped by Langkawi for a short work trip, we took the opportunity to visit the biggest aquarium in Malaysia – Underwater World Langkawi.

Underwater World Langkawi
Underwater World Langkawi

I’ve always been a fan of fishes and aquariums from a young age. In high school I joined the aquarium society and was in fact the president of the club for a year (interesting trivia, I know)..

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As for big aquariums, I’ve visited Aquaria KLCC (even dived in it), Siam Ocean World in Bangkok,  Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, and at one point, I even held the yearly pass for Newport Aquarium at Kentucky, so clearly I wasn’t going to miss the chance to visit Underwater World Langkawi.

As it turned out, the decision was a correct one, what we got to enjoy was well worth the RM 36/pax entrance fee (for Malaysian). Check out the short 3 minute video above.

penguins!
rockhopper and black-footed penguins!

The aquarium covers some 60,000 sq ft separated in several sections, starting with reptiles and some freshwater fish right after the entrance area. Here you get to see the biggest freshwater fish species – Arapaima Gigas, among others such as the freshwater stingray, red tail cat fish etc.

getting up close with the sharks, and the mesmerizing octopus
getting up close with the sharks, and the mesmerizing octopus

Next up is the tropical rain forest, which houses not only fish but birds and and small animals. Our favorites being the marmoset, which looks a bit like super tiny Chinese opera actors if you ask me. There are also flamingos, swan, mandarin ducks and more.

The temperate and sub-antarctic sections are the main draws here, cos for many this would be the first time being up close with seals & penguins. There are in fact two penguin areas, one of each for rockhopper and black-footed penguins.

giant garupa, mud skippers, jellyfish and more
giant garupa, mud skippers, jellyfish and more

Like many big aquariums, there’s a tunnel at Underwater World Langkawi as well. Here you’ll see several species of sharks, giant grouper, turtles, stingray and more swimming about merrily. To be honest, I thought the tunnel at Aquaria KLCC was a bit more impressive, but this is a much bigger aquarium with more to see otherwise.

After the tunnel, there’s still yet more sea lives on showcase at the various tanks, including spider crab, octopus (very mesmerizing), jelly fish, reef fish, trevally, batfish, mudskippers, shrimps, and of course, clown fish.

Overall I thought it was a very fun experience and I’d recommend it to anyone, but especially those who loves the ocean.

map to Cenang beach, Langkawi

Address:
Underwater World Langkawi,
Zon Pantai Cenang,
Mukim Kedawang, 07000 Langkawi
GPS: 6.287737, 99.728655
Tel: 04-955 6100
Hours: 9:30AM-6:30PM weekdays, 9:30AM-8:30PM weekends

For most, the mere images of sharks conjure up nightmares and scenes of horror (partly thanks to Steven Speilberg’s factually incorrect movie – Jaws), and definitely something to avoid.

However, to a diver, sharks are some of the most beautiful creatures and one that’s to be protected and to be adored, preferably up close and personal. Lucky me, I got to do that just a while back right here in KL.

Aquaria KLCC Shark in the City Cage Rage launch
Aquaria KLCC Shark in the City Cage Rage launch

It all got started a few months ago when I was invited to the Shark in the City – Cage Rage launch at Aquaria KLCC from Dato’ Simon Foong, the owner of the aquarium who is also a Twitter user with the handle @Aquaria_KLCC. We “converse” via Twitter on numerous occasions, and that’s how I got to know the good dato.

Aquaria KLCC is truly a world class aquarium, right in the middle of the city
Aquaria KLCC is truly a world class aquarium, right in the middle of the city

While Aquaria has been allowing certified divers to dive in the main tank for quite a while now, Cage Rage allows even non-divers to experience the thrill of being in the water with the sharks (behind a cage with protective panel, using a breathing pipe and mask instead of scuba gears)

Knowing that I’m an avid diver, Dato’ Simon then extended a coupon for me to dive at the aquarium, and I finally did it a few weeks ago, and here’s how it went.

above the main tank
above the main tank, just prior to diving

An appointment is strongly recommended, and I made mine a few days prior to the dive. On the day itself, there was another diver, Omar, who came to do the same thing.

We were first shown two short videos showcasing the creatures we are going to meet, then the dive masters gave us a briefing about the dos and don’ts as well as the dive plan.

Then we were off to the main tank! Check out the video above for the highlights of my dive, complete with soothing music for your pleasure. Yes, you are welcome.

the magnificent sand tiger shark at Aquaria KLCC
the magnificent sand tiger shark at Aquaria KLCC

The dive itself was chilling and thrilling. Chilling cos the water is at around 24-25 Celsius instead of the more common 28-29 Celsius in local water (the sharks actually prefer even colder water, but it’s a compromise with other tropical fish in the tank), and thrilling because there’s all those huge predators you are swimming with.

and we are in the tank! with people watching
we are in the tank! and became part of the exhibit

The big boys were definitely the sand tiger sharks, they look real bad ass but mostly just kept to themselves, showing only minimal interest to the divers. There’s also the inquisitive giant grouper than probably weigh more than me, beautiful leopard shark (one that we had hoped to see at Similan Islands trip), the graceful giant blotch fantail stingray, the speedy cow nose ray, moray eel, and much more. It was a feast for the eyes, never would you see such a collection in a single dive.

giant grouper, sand tiger shark, moray eel, leopard shark
giant grouper, sand tiger shark, moray eel, leopard shark

The dive costs RM 400 per person per dive and lasts about 45 minutes to an hour underwater (or as long as you can stand the cold), bottom depth is only a few meters and so it is very safe. You must be able to navigate fairly well in the water as the tank isn’t open ocean and can be fairly restrictive.

Overall though, it was a great experience, and one that i’d recommend to anyone who wants to get up close to them big sharks, or to wet your bones during off seasons.

Now maybe it’s time to plan the next dive trip!

Sharks fins soup

September 27, 2010 63 Comments

One of the questions I often get is “is there anything you not eat?”

My answer would be “everything a normal person would eat, except for kiwi and endangered species”.

Kiwi cos I had allergic reactions to it a couple times in my life, and endangered species, well, it’s nice to have bio-diversity and save some for the future generations.

I’d eat a dog before I eat a pangolin, basically.

sharks fin survey results

A few days ago I put up this simple survey (utilizing Nuffnang’s poll function, poll now closed) in order to gauge some of your thoughts with regards to sharks fin. There were close to 100 of you who responded (thank you!), and I must say the results are a bit surprising.

  • close to a quarter of readers think sharks fin is a must in Chinese wedding dinners
  • 30% will order sharks fin if price wasn’t a factor
  • almost everyone knows the cruelty in shark finning, or do not care

reef shark
a graceful reef shark, photo taken on my trip to Sipadan

As a matter of principle, I have already stopped eating shark’s fin soup even when it’s served over wedding dinners.

I’ll let you read about the damage shark finning can do to the environment and how completely nutrition-less and potentially poisonous mercury laden these fins are on your own leisure. However, for the sake of environmental preservation, we as consumer should stop demanding for these soup.

After all, it’ll be crazy to demand for tiger meat for your wedding, right?