26 December 2010

A Party of a lifetime

In December my friend celebrated his 60th birthday at the Two Oceans Aquarium with a sleep-over party. Pat is a passionate and sucessful marine biologist and Director of the Aquarium, so it could not have been a more fitting place to celebrate. We had supper in front of the Predator Tank and after the festivities, people dragged their matresses to wherever they liked.

I slipped off into the Diversity Hall and entered an enchanted world...

It was absolutely quiet except for the rhythmic swoosh! of the intertidal exhibit and aircon. There were no throngs of people, or screaming kids - just a silent, colourful world of the most beautiful and bizarre creatures.

The ethereal streamers of box jellyfish

We decided to make our nest in front of the Shark Tank, lit by moonlight. The fish all swim in a clockwise direction around a central rock: there were strong, powerful yellowtails, enormous white stumpnose, grunter, sting rays, a turtle and a few large ragged-tooth sharks, circling among their prey.

I was absolutely mesmerised by a school of shimmering mackerel which scattered nervously in front of the predatory fish. Apparently the size of the school has diminished considerably over the last few months as they are snacked between feeding times.

Next morning we woke up and shafts of sunlight lit the tank.

What an incredible experience and priviledge. Thank you Pat!


  1. That's some sleepover!

    Why do they swim clockwise?

  2. I have no idea - maybe they've set up a current? Only the turtle and stingrays seem to do their own thing, occasionally swimming against the trend.