08 November 2016

PHOTO BLOG: Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium

After recently posting my Okinawa Top 10, it's now time to take a more in-depth look at some of the highlights of my summer in Okinawa. Visiting Churaumi Aquarium in Ocean Expo Park (approx. 90km north of Naha) was undoubtedly one of my favourite experiences. It's one of the world's biggest aquariums, with a main tank so large that it can fit not just one but two huge whale sharks (plus manta rays and other fish). The aquarium is an incredible showcase for the marine life that lives in the coral reefs surrounding the islands, as well as species found in deeper waters. The waters surrounding Okinawa are said to be home to a diversity of species on par with that found in the Great Barrier Reef, and one visit to the aquarium certainly confirms this.

What really struck me when I visited the aquarium was the beauty of the variety of fish and other marine life... even the slightly more odd-looking fish are beautiful in their own way. The photos below give an insight into how diverse the marine life housed in the aquarium is. The photos are divided up by the three different themed areas found in the aquarium.

Journey to a Coral Reef
The aquarium's coral reef tank has no roof, allowing natural light to illuminate the coral and the fish inhibiting the reef. The corals inside have taken over 10 years to cultivate.

The coral reef itself is stunning, even without any fish

Fugu / Blowfish

Parrot fish


Butterfly fish



Garden eels


Journey to the Kuroshio
This section of the aquarium houses the main feature: a tank with 7,500 cubic metres of water, which is home to the 8.6m long whale sharks, manta rays and other fish. There is also a shark tank, with an accompanying exhibition which aims to contradict the commonly-held notion that all sharks are blood-thirsty, dangerous animals.

The huge main tank at the aquarium

Manta ray

Whale shark

The shark tank

Journey into the Deep Sea
This area contains marine life that has been collected from more than 200m below sea level. You can observe more than 70 rare species, including unusual species that glow in the dark.

Rare deep water fish, pristigenys meyeri

Squat lobster

Corals living in the deep sea

Coral that glows with reflected infra red light

Churaumi Aquarium is one of Okinawa's top attractions and a must-visit for anyone with an interest in marine life or wildlife/nature in general. Because it is so popular, I recommend arriving as soon as it opens in the morning to stand a chance of beating the crowds. You can spend the rest of the day exploring the other sights in Ocean Expo ParkAfter a visit to this aquarium, you'll surely want to experience snorkelling or scuba diving in Okinawa to visit the coral reefs and get even closer to this incredible marine life!

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