The honourable Mrs. Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, GBS, JP, Chief Secretary for Administration, Dr. Allan Zeman, Chairman of Ocean Park, and other honoured guests today officiated the grand opening of Shark Mystique, one of Asia’s largest shark exhibits. The awe-inspiring new attraction features over a hundred sharks and rays, viewable through a 360-degree panorama that spirals down three levels, replete with extensive educational displays and state-of-the-art interactive games designed to convey the importance of shark conservation and marine biodiversity. Shark Mystique is also the first major new attraction to open after the completion of the Park’s Master Redevelopment Plan (MRP), which brought to Hong Kong Asia’s first Applause Award. Shark Mystique will be opened to the public starting on 27 June. Riding on the launch of Shark Mystique, Ocean Park will present this year’s summer event with a shark theme. Dubbed Summer Shark Fever, the event will run from 28 June – 24 August.
Other guests of honour at today’s launch included Mr. Jonn Benedict Lu, Regional Director, WildAid Shark Savers; Ms. Ella Koon, “I’m FINished with FINs” campaign ambassador; Ms. Suzanne Gendron, Director of Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Hong Kong (OPCFHK); and many others. As part of today’s ceremony, representatives of eight major local restaurant groups, covering a total of 135 outlets, made a “No Shark Fin” pledge, thereby committing to offering alternative “No Shark Fin” menus at their establishments.
Mrs. Lam said, “Throughout the years, Ocean Park has been supporting Hong Kong’s conservation and tourism development. With the opening of the brand new Shark Mystique, visitors can learn more about the threats faced by the endangered shark and marine species. In this respect, the Government is committed to the promotion of green living. To set an example in support of sustainability, we have taken out shark fin, bluefin tuna and black moss from the menus of official entertainment functions. I hope more people will join us by adopting a sustainability-conscious lifestyle.”
Dr. Zeman said, “Shark Mystique pays homage to Hong Kong’s passion for marine conservation as nurtured through the city’s origin as a fishing village. The new attraction has an additional layer of historical meaning for Hong Kong people as it represents an evolution of our former Atoll Reef exhibit, a legacy attraction where generations of local guests fell in love with marine life. Through extensive displays and state-of-the-art interactive games, the entire family will come away with fun facts about sharks’ many amazing adaptations and a better appreciation of their role in helping maintain healthy oceans. Equally important, we have enhanced accessibility so that more people – even the wheelchair-bound – can enjoy the exhibit. ”
Mr. Jonn Benedict Lu, Regional Director, WildAid Shark Savers said, “When we launched the ‘I’m FINished with FINs’ campaign in Hong Kong, people said it would be impossible to remove shark fin from menus in Hong Kong. Reports from the trade and press now indicate that shark fin consumption has fallen, drastically in China by an estimated 50 to 70 per cent. This is due to increased awareness through channels from advertising and street campaigns to programmes like Shark Mystique and promotion by partnering restaurants. When the buying stops, the killing can too.”
As part of today’s ceremony, representatives from eight leading local restaurant groups, covering a total of 135 outlets, pledged to offer alternative “No Shark Fin” menus and actively promote them to their patrons during the campaign period from July to September 2014. The eight groups are: Tao Heung Group, Paramount Catering Group, Fulum Group, East Ocean • Victoria City Restaurant (Hong Kong Group), Federal Restaurant Group, LH Group, Ming Yuen International Restaurant Group, and Ho Yin Group. Also on hand to support the pledge are representatives of three industry organizations: Ms. Caroline Li, Vice Chairman of Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants & Related Trades; Mr. Simon Wong, Chairman of Institute of Dining Art; and Mr. David Yeung, Co-founder of Green Monday.
As a pioneer in removing shark fin from menus, Ocean Park stopped serving the dish in all its restaurants and at staff banquets in 1995. The launch of Shark Mystique enables the Park to further strengthen its conservation advocacy against the consumption and purchase of shark fin products.
World-class Edutainment Experience
In tribute to Hong Kong’s historical beginnings, Shark Mystique features a façade reminiscent of stilt houses as found in fishing villages. Similar designs extend past the attraction’s entrance, themed as a shark’s mouth, welcoming guests on their descent down three levels into the world of sharks and rays. With two newly added skylights to complement the indoor lighting, the attraction offers a fascinating perspective of sharks from the depths of the oceans. Iconic species include ragged tooth sharks, whose fierce appearance belies their docile nature, and sawfish, a critically endangered species of ray marked by a saw-like rostrum.
To help guests learn about shark’s evolutionary history, biology and conservation status, the attraction features extensive educational displays, including a unique exhibit on shark anatomy that combines a transparent touch screen and a 3D model. The entire family can test their grasp of fun facts by playing interactive games, highlighted by a challenge to prepare shark fin alternative dishes in virtual fashion. Before leaving the aquarium, the public can show their commitment to helping stop shark finning by posing for a picture to say “I’m FINished with FINs”. There is also a panel for guests to make a donation to OPCFHK in support of marine conservation. In addition to daily public narrations and education tours, there is a Shark Classroom where classes for local students will be held.
Enhance in Sustainability, Accessibility and Husbandry Capabilities
When updating a building that opened since the Park’s inception 37 years ago, a wide range of green features have been adopted, including a gas-powered absorption chiller system, with functionalities for speed adjustment based on guest traffic, the use of recycled materials for decoration, as well as energy-efficient LED lighting. Equally important, ramps and elevators have been added to make the attraction wheelchair accessible.
Shark Mystique also marks an enhancement to Ocean Park’s husbandry capabilities. An upgraded Life Support System (LSS) and additional skimmers have been installed to optimize water quality. With its vastly increased tank capacity – at five times the previous shark aquarium – aquarists will be able to attempt breeding shark species of particular significance, including the ragged tooth shark, which are categorized as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List. These efforts will contribute to human understanding of the long-term sustainability of different shark species.
Summer Shark Fever Starts on 28 June
With Shark Mystique set to be this summer’s hottest attraction, Ocean Park is presenting a shark-themed summer event entitled Summer Shark Fever, which runs from 28 June to 24 August. Highlights include Foam Viva, a semi-outdoor foam party with dazzling party lights and riveting disco beats; Sharks Splashin’ Dance, a performance by shark-costumed dancers to convey “No Shark Fin” messages while presenting a soaking experience; and Kids Water Splash Area, in colourful, shark and marine animal themed setting where kids can play with foam or soak their friends with water guns.
During Summer Shark Fever, Ocean Park will offer a variety of cool culinary creations. Unique food and beverage offerings include: Seasonal Berry Jelly with Rose Croquant and Salted Caramel Ice Cream; Häagen-DazsTM mini chocolate ice-cream cake topped with a shark design; special drinks served in a cup that reveals fins when filled; and cookies presented in a special-edition shark packaging from Kay Wah Bakery. The Park has also launched a new line of shark-themed souvenirs: a new James Fin moving plush toy; shark-shaped sunglasses; umbrellas with grinning sharks; and Crocs shark shoe charms. As the Summer Shark Fever footwear sponsor, Crocs has also developed two “Crocs x Ocean Park Jibbitz™ charms” sets featuring 6 of Ocean Park’s iconic characters; a total of only 5,000 sets are available. For each set sold from late July to August 31, Crocs will donate HK$5 to OPCFHK in support of the Blue Matters movement. Also, throughout the month of July, the majority of proceeds from the sale of selected merchandise will benefit Shark Savers.
Being a major pillar of Hong Kong’s tourism industry, Ocean Park will install a shark-themed sand sculpture at Arrival Hall B of the Hong Kong International Airport this summer. The sculpture will feature panels and screens carrying conservation messages. Arriving tourist will also receive a leaflet with a QR code, which entitles them to a 10% discount on regular Ocean Park tickets. The Park’s mascots will engage in meet-and-greet at the airport on selected weekends in July and August to give away shark souvenirs. The Park will also present various special offers in collaboration with various business partners.
Dr. Zeman concluded, “Ocean Park has always been the hottest destination during the summer holiday period. With this year’s launch of Shark Mystique, I encourage everyone to plan ahead for a cool encounter with our amazing sharks and chilling out at all our wonderful seasonal attractions!”