I don’t really get to spend much time with my good friend May anymore; however, I wanted the chance to hang out before going back to the States. On Thursday, May was sweet enough to take a day of work so we could hang out. We talked about doing a day trip somewhere, but decided instead to stay in Shanghai and check out the Shanghai Aquarium. (This ended up being the perfect plan, because sandwiched between a blue sky, beautiful Wednesday and a warm & dry Friday, we had a rainy miserable Thursday – being inside was a good thing.)
The Shanghai Aquarium is right next to the Oriental Pearl Tower in Pudong. As we were walking by the tower, I realized in my time in Shanghai, I have only been over to the area near the tower about four times. Every time, it happened to be wet, cloudy and miserable. So this is how the tower has always looked to me when ever I have seen it up close and personal. (I have yet to actually bother going inside.)
We arrived at the aquarium, bought our tickets (160 rmb/adult) and noticed that we were just in time for the shark feeding on the feeding schedule! Yippee! We asked where the shark tank was and learned about the one downfall of the aquarium – one way traffic. You start out on the third floor of the aquarium and work your way down and through the three levels of exhibits – once you pass through you can’t go back. The shark tank, of course, was at the end. So we weren’t able to watch them feed the sharks but it was still a great trip to the aquarium.
There was a special exhibit of dangerous sea animals, lots of funky looking poisonous fish, electric eels, sea urchins and little shell fish that you would never imagine had venom in them capable of killing hundreds of humans.
There was an alligator (or crocodile, I don’t really know the difference) that was laying there SO still, I swore he was dead. He had obviously been laying there for awhile because someone had thrown a coin on him and it was laying on his back. May said he was definitely alive… I had my doubts.
One of my favorite parts was the jellyfish section, huge tanks full of beautiful jellyfish of all different sizes and colors. They are such fascinating looking creatures, floating about, gliding effortlessly through the water. One of the huge tanks of hundreds of clear/white colored jellyfish was illuminated by lights that changed colors, making the entire tank and jellyfish look like they were changing colors.
In the SOS (save our sharks) exhibit, there were graphic images of the brutalities sharks face as they are hunted for shark fin soup, a delicacy in Asian countries. There was also one of the most fascinating things I have ever seen, live fertilized, developing shark eggs. Okay, so maybe eggs aren’t the most fascinating thing ever… but this certain type of shark actually develops and hatches from an egg. The aquarium had eggs at their different developmental stages on display with light shining through them so you could actually SEE what was going on inside the egg. In the first several stages, there was still a yolk inside the egg with the little teeny shark embryo. The eggs from 41-50 days old were the best I thought, because you could see the yolk, and then around the yolk you could see a little teeny baby shark swimming around inside the egg. I was fascinated! In the later stages of development, you could see the little shark (and if definitely looked like the body of a little shark) just cramped up inside the egg ready to be freed into the world. Awesome.
My other favorite section was the “World Longest Underwater Viewing Tunnel at 155m” as the sign said. The tunnel is broken up into sections and different sections feature different types of fish and sea life. An area with huge schools of fish swimming super fast in circles around you, an area with a coral reef and lots of small colorful fish, and of course the best part, the huge sharks, giant sea turtles and graceful stingrays. Have you ever been in a glass tunnel with a shark swimming above your head, so close you could touch it, or with a huge sea turtle (that probably weighed way more than me) swimming straight at you? It is pretty amazing. Unfortunately, with my fussy, broken camera and the fast swimming animals, my attempts to photograph the experience didn’t work so well.
I did spend a long time in that tunnel, just in awe of the beautiful, stunning, creatures of the sea. I had heard good things about the Shanghai Aquarium and I am really glad I took the opportunity to check it out. It is well laid out, everything is in English as well as Chinese, the displays and amount of animals you get to see are quite impressive. I would absolutely recommend it if you are hanging out in Shanghai on a rainy day and need a good indoor activity.
After the aquarium, May and I headed to the Super Brand Mall where we feasted on delicious dim sum at Bi Feng Tang for lunch.