The aquarium contains a large variety of Australian aquatic life, displaying more than 650 species comprising more than 6,000 individual fish and other sea and water creatures from most of Australia's water habitats.
The Sydney Aquarium was opened in 1988, during Australia's bicentenary celebrations, and is one of the largest aquariums in the world. It is regarded as one of Sydney's premier tourist attractions with over 55% of its visitors each year coming from overseas. A crocodile exhibit is being planned for 2008.
In 2006, Sydney Wildlife World opened next to Sydney Aquarium, which is owned by the same Sydney Attractions Group.
The Sydney Aquarium is split into the following exhibit areas and highlights:
- Southern Rivers
- Platypus habitat
- Murray-Darling river system
- Northern Rivers
- Saltwater Crocodile
- Mermaid Lagoon
- Dugong exhibit
- Southern Ocean
- Little Penguins habitat
- Sydney Harbour
- Open Ocean Oceanarium
- Northern Ocean
- Great Barrier Reef Oceanarium
History and exhibit details
The aquarium was designed by Australian architects to resemble a large wave, to complement the underwater theme of an aquarium and the maritime theme of Darling Harbour, and took nearly two years to build. The Great Barrier Reef complex which opened in October 1998 continues this same theme.
The Sydney Aquarium has distinctly Australian themes and exhibits, which take visitors through the continent's waterways and marine ecosystems. Exhibits cover the rivers of Australia, exploring the Southern and Northern River habitats, as well as the oceans of Australia, through the Southern and Northern Ocean habitats. The complex and fragile nature of Australia's very different and unique aquatic environments is emphasised.
Some of the displays are housed in the main exhibit hall and others are housed in floating oceanariums. The Seal Sanctuary and Open Ocean exhibits comprise two massive oceanariums, amongst the largest in the world, and have underwater tunnels allowing visitors to examine marine life at close quarters. In the Open Ocean Oceanarium, Sydney Aquarium houses the largest collection of sharks in captivity. Some of the sharks weigh up to 300kg and are over 3m in length.
In December 1991, the first Seal Sanctuary was opened. Since then, Sydney Aquarium has upgraded the facilities and a new oceanarium to house seals opened in September 2003. The Seal Sanctuary features Australian Sea Lions, Australian Fur Seals, Subantarctic Fur Seals, and New Zealand Fur Seals. In this floating oceanarium, the seals can be seen below the water's surface from underwater viewing tunnels, and from above on an open-air deck. The Seal Sanctuary is incorporated into the Southern Oceans exhibit, which also features Little Penguins, the Open Ocean Oceanarium, and Sydney Harbour displays.
In October 1998, the Great Barrier Reef complex opened comprising a tropical touch pool, a live coral cave, coral atoll, two circular gateway displays and a massive Great Barrier Reef oceanarium. Over 6,000 animals are housed in the oceanarium which contains 2.6 million litres of water pumped from Darling Harbour, filtered and heated before it flows into the Oceanarium and adjoining display tanks. The water is kept at a constant temperature of 25°C. The Oceanarium is 33 m long and 13 m wide, with a total area of about 370sqm and a water depth of 3.5 m. The final exhibit is a reef theatre where activity in a coral canyon can be observed through a window 7 m by 4 m and 26 cm in thickness.
In 2008 the seal sanctuary was closed and the seals were sent to Sea World, Gold Coast, Australia. The seal sanctuary was then renovated and reopened as Mermaid Lagoon in December 2008. Mermaid Lagoon is the new permanent home of Pig and Wuru, dugongs which were previously kept at Sea World, Gold Coast. Mermaid Lagoon has above-water viewing areas as well as underwater viewing tunnels. Other animals kept in the oceanarium include a shark ray, shovelnose rays, zebra sharks, eagle rays and dozens of different species of fish.
Research and conservation
The Sydney Aquarium has provided facilities and/or assistance have been provided to research institutions including the University of Sydney, the University of New South Wales, the La Trobe University, Indiana University, the Australian Museum, the Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service and the New South Wales Fisheries Research Institute.
Sydney Aquarium has assisted by providing holding facilities for animals used in many research projects carried out by these organisations. In recent years, the aquarium has been involved in the tagging of sea turtles, collections for research and the holding of invertebrates for research. Other projects include the effects of heavy metal contamination in marine environments and fish tag longevity on rays.
December 20 2007 the glass bottomed boat or Shark Explorer began operating. Giving guests a tour of the great barrier reef tank.
it is a cool place.