(Hong Kong – 12 April 2011) As a leading aquarium in Asia, Ocean Park’s Grand Aquarium continuously enhances the living environment of its animal ambassadors, as well as the techniques and facilities for animal care. Complemented by a dozen aquarists with combined professional knowledge and experience of over 200 years, the Grand Aquarium offers an excellent environment for producing the next generation of marine life. Since its inception, Ocean Park has seen 25 different species procreate through natural mating, including 11 varieties of sharks, one species of ray, a species of skate, and one type of seahorse. In particular, Ocean Park successfully nurtured the development of a second generation of black spotted sting ray and whitetip reef shark.
In terms of the aquarium’s environment, facilities and staff training, Ocean Park has kept the needs of breeding in mind when designing the Grand Aquarium so that the 5,000 fish of over 400 species can have a comfortable environment in which to live and reproduce.
Spacious environment for displaying natural behaviour
With a capacity of 5,244,000 litres, the Grand Aquarium offers resident fish ambassadors a commodious environment with double the space compared to the previous facility. Moreover, the use of diverse, high-nutrition, human consumption-grade fish feed enables the fish to maintain excellent health as they produce new generations. In addition, conditions within the aquarium have been meticulously designed to simulate the natural marine environment, ranging from water quality, rock and coral designs, diurnal light cycle to water currents. The aim is to provide the fish with a setting that enables them to exhibit their natural behaviour. For instance, fish of the same species tend to swim in schools in the capacious main tank.
State-of-the-art facilities pave way for new generations
As one of the top aquariums in the world, the Grand Aquarium is equipped with an advanced life support system that features a skimmer channel at the top surface of the tank, which enables aquarists to collect fish eggs from the filter. Together with attentive nurturing, the new system will significantly enhance the success rate of the Park’s breeding efforts. The Grand Aquarium’s life support system is much more advanced compared with that in the Atoll Reef, including the ozone generator and 24 units of foam fractionator, which disinfects the water effectively.
To raise the survival rate of newborns, Ocean Park’s hatchery has an independent life support system and its own pool so as to segregate yet-to-be hatched eggs from the hatchlings, which will be cared for and closely monitored by aquarists. Hatchlings will be fed a special diet, mainly of chlorella and rotifers; their growth will also be carefully recorded to ensure healthy development. The aquarists constantly assess the fish’s readiness for being introduced into the main exhibition tank, which would signify their officially joining the ranks of Ocean Park’s conservation ambassadors.
David Lai added, “Besides state-of-the-art equipment, having a staff of experienced professional aquarists who are passionate about their work is also a key ingredient to Ocean Park’s ongoing success in propagating marine life.”
Staff of experienced and professional aquarists
To ensure the marine animals in the Grand Aquarium can live and reproduce in a safe and optimal environment, there is a staff of 12 professional aquarists specifically dedicated to caring for the more than 400 species every day, plus a team of nearly 70 people to monitor the life support system around the clock and seven people to keep close watch on water quality. Three of the aquarists have more than 35 years of experience and another five have over 15 years of experience, while most of the remaining aquarist have between four to five years of experience. They all have a wealth of professional expertise and knowledge in the display of fish, marine animal care and life support systems. In addition, they often visit aquariums around the world to share their experience and insights with other professionals and to enhance their own knowledge.
Marine animal exchange with other aquariums
Ocean Park engages in animal exchanges with other aquariums throughout the world in the spirit of sustainable development and in order to advocate for conservation by providing the public more opportunities for a close encounter with different marine species. The Park has exchanged marine animals, including sea jellies, seahorses and sharks, with aquariums in the United States, Portugal, South Africa, Singapore, Japan and Taiwan so that visitors worldwide can share in the fruits of Ocean Park’s breeding success through meeting Hong Kong-born animal ambassadors. In the wake of the recent earthquake in Japan, Ocean Park will be sending Napoleon fish, sharks, rays and giant groupers to Aquamarine Fukushima in support of its reconstruction.
Free participation in Grand Aquarium Ed-Venture
From 16 April to 8 May, the regular education narration at the giant viewing panel of the Grand Aquarium will present extra free offerings to guests at three designated timeslots (1:30pm, 2:30pm and 4:00pm). Three to four questions will be asked during a marine conservation Q&A, which will follow the narration by the Park’s Conservation Ambassadors in each timeslot. Each lucky winner will be entitled to two free tickets to the Grand Aquarium Ed-Venture, a behind-the-scene guided tour that allows the public a rare glimpse of the Grand Aquarium’s extensive life support and filtration systems, as well as the custom-made transportation tank and hauling system that were used to move the giant napoleon fish, groupers and sharks from the Atoll Reef to their spectacular new home. The Park will give away 20 free tickets to the activity daily.
Animal Month—In High Definition
From now until 8 May, Ocean Park is offering a number of exclusive programmes for this year’s Animal Month—In High Definition. Guests can enjoy an exclusive nocturnal encounter with their favourite animal ambassadors inside the Grand Aquarium and dine in Neptune’s Restaurant and Panda Café through Night time in the Ocean’s Depths. The Park is also hosting a unique exhibition entitled Plastic Re-imagination featuring one-of-a-kind artworks created by Hong Kong students from plastic waste collected off local beaches. Happy Fish Party is being staged near the Lagoon for guests to dance with giant sea animal puppets and colourful dancers. At Whiskers Harbour, parents and kids can learn about basic fish biology and sustainable seafood concepts through visiting the interactive workshop Little Chefs’ Fish Academy. It also includes a cooking demonstration of sustainable seafood by an Ocean Park chef. During the Animal Month—In High Definition period, the Waterfront Plaza is featuring the Help Our Waters Learning Gallery, which enables visitors to explore the negative effects of plastic waste. The Green Gong Group is showing their support for recycling by creating rousing rhythms with instruments made from recycled materials. Visitors can also stay at the Park into the evening to enjoy the Symbio! show—an ancient tale about the symbiotic relationship between humans and the Earth told in stunning light and sound effects.