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THE HOLYNAMIAN

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THE OCEANARIUM EXPERIENCE

The Manila Ocean Park, according to its administrators, is dedicated to create and further awareness on the Philippine marine environment and the various environmental issues. To further this end, the said park forged a partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the global conservation organization. The said partnership allows collaboration on permanent and thematic exhibits to reveal the intricate balance and threats to marine habitats.

The author was privileged to visit the popular oceanarium last April 6, 2008. Knowing it was always better to make an early visit, she and her companions were right away ushered to the expansive reception hall, given the tickets, then allowed to enter the park (minutes later, the place was jam-packed!). The first stop of the visit, in the outdoors with plenty of vegetation, was the “Agos” where one can learn about the natural flow of water from land to sea. Giant arapaima, piranhas and various types of crab can be found in this zone. At the Touch Pool, a hands-on experience awaits those who want to interact with some of the friendly residents, such as the starfish, blue-spotted stingray and sea cucumber.

The second stop brings the visitors to "Bahura" which features some of the most fascinating creatures in the Philippine coral reefs. Then the third stop brings one to "Laot" where one can find a wide variety of fish in the deeper waters of the sea. The author was amazed at the sight of the giant grouper (Lapu-Lapu) which weighed about 600 pounds. Fourth in line is the “Buhay na Karagatan”, the showcased part of the park. Yes, it is the 25-meter long tunnel that features various marine animals and how they interact with each other. A giant janitor fish stole the scene as it gracefully glided up and down, sometimes brushing its mouth against the glass, much to the spectators’ delight. Then of course, the awesome giant stingrays were there, swimming playfully across the tunnel.

The next stop, the fifth one, is "Ang Kalaliman" which is housed in a huge room. It features different schools of fish like the barracuda. Then there is the overhang tank which offers a top and bottom view of stingrays (these were the ones being fed by hand during TV shoots). Another tank houses sharks of different sizes. Then finally, the last stop is the multi-media facility where fun and interactive activities are offered to all oceanarium visitors. As the author made her exit from the park, she visited the souvenir shop to have a few mementos. One can have a personalized key chain, bag tag, or framed photo with one’s picture placed on a chosen theme or background. As a whole, the visit was quite an experience, one not to be easily forgotten.



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