Resorts World Sentosa S.E.A. Aquarium

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Interrupting the Kyushu travelogue for something local. Anyway, I can't keep writing about Japan, I've got to mix it up a bit right?
Anyway, a couple of friends and I managed to get our hands on some corporate tickets to the S.E.A Aquarium recently. To be honest, if not for the heavily discounted tickets, this was not an attraction I would otherwise have visited on my own. It's too pricey in my opinion. Plus, I have a friend who would probably lecture me on the evils of this place.
S.E.A Aquarium
The S.E.A Aquarium is home to more than 100,000 marine animals (over 800 species). It is located within the huge Resorts World complex, right next to Universal Studios Singapore. While it's not exactly difficult to locate the aquarium, the throngs of crowds does make it less visible. You've just got to get past those hustling for photos at the iconic Universal Studios globe.
Getting to the aquarium requires you to first pass through The Maritime Experiential Museum. The museum and the aquarium are apparently "separate" attractions but located within the same building. Technically, admission to the museum is free. It's included in the admission to the S.E.A Aquarium and they only scan your tickets later.
However, if you are interested in the 4D multi-media experiential Typhoon Theatre, you'll have to pay an additional SGD$3. The Typhoon Theatre allows you to board a 9th century vessel replica where you will experience a storm and shipwreck simulation.
My friends and I gave the Typhoon Theatre a miss. I wasn't particularly interested in paying for the potential of getting myself sea-sick even before I hit the aquariums.
Asia’s rich maritime history, Admiral Zheng He and Singapore’s past as a trading port feature as main themes of The Maritime Experiential Museum. There was a life-sized replica of the bow of Zheng He's treasure ship, exhibits of various ports along the Maritime Silk Route, a shipwreck collection as well as replica of the Jewel of Muscat (a 9th century Arabian ship).
There were also interactive displays scattered around the museum. A lot more engaging than just peering at exhibits. There were many kids and their grandparents who clustered around these interactive mediums. My friend tried one of the games that was probably based off one of those Sonic run types.
To be honest, we just breezed through the museum. I was not particularly interested in maritime history. Just not my cup of tea. Instead, I was eager to get to the S.E.A Aquarium itself.
As you can see from the map below, the S.E.A Aquarium is a rectangular area that's been divided into a few zones. Some zones seem to attract a lot more crowds than others, and likewise, some exhibits more than others. Information boards and signs were posted around many of the aquariums. However, in some spots, the crowds were so unforgiving, I barely had any chance to skim what was written.  
Source: Resorts World Sentosa
I'll divide my photos and paragraphs according to the zones as well. But honestly, you'll probably get more details out of the official website (which I will include at the end of the post).
Oh, a photography tip. There's no need for flash photography when in S.E.A Aquarium. Apparently, the zones have been built with adequate lighting for photography. In fact, if you use flash, you're very likely to get one of those glare spots marring the photos. Plus, it's going to irritate the sea animals and those around you.
Shark Seas:
Or what I personally think of as the Sharks' Tunnel. While it was definitely cool to watch those predators above you (yes, even with the noisy horde in the tunnel), I wonder if the sharks were looking at us from the other side as food. Particularly when I found out that hammerheads have 360 degree vision. Man... no sneaking up from behind yah?

Live Coral Habitat:
This is my favourite zone. Those of you who love colours and rainbows like I do, you'll appreciate this zone as it'll look like you've entered a neon underwater world.
Unfortunately, this was one zone that really attracted the crowds. Expect to fight for space to grab pictures (watch out for photo-bombing fingers and heads!), especially if there are groups of loud, inconsiderate tourists.

Don't miss out on the moray eels while being captivated chasing the rainbows though. These predators are mean-looking but they might oblige for a really cool photo. I was hoping that it'll give a demonstration of its second jaw as well but this was the best shot I had.
Did you know that moray eels have "Alien" jaws? It's a second jaw that launches forward to grab at prey, really like in those "Alien" movies.
African Lake:
My photos from this zone mostly bombed.
Conversation I happened to overhear while scouting for a position to grab more pictures of Nemo (i.e. clownfishes):
Boy to Mom: Mummy! Mummy! Look! Nemo! Many Nemo!
Mom back to Boy: Yah! Nemo so cute! So many!
Dad comes up from behind: Eh! Got more clownfish hiding in the "branches"
Mom to Dad: Where got clownfish? I only see Nemo leh.
I failed miserably trying to get a shot thereafter. Too busy gaping and shaking my head.
There was also a discovery pool. This was possibly the only area that I totally did not agree with. There were tons of screaming kids fondling and molesting the poor sea creatures (star fishes and what not). I figured if I didn't like being manhandled, other creatures might feel the same.
Open Ocean Habitat:
No pictures of the huge-assed aquarium that's in all the S.E.A Aquarium's advertisements. Primarily because I only had heads and bodies in the pics. However, this zone is majestic. It's a huge, open panoramic display. You can sit around the amphitheatre-like area just staring at the underwater cinema in front of you. I regretted not bringing my wide-angle lens then, but judging from the number of heads and bodies in my photos, not so much now.

What did completely captivate me (and my camera) were the sea nettles and sea jellies displays. This was my next favourite area. Again like-wise, possibly for many. I hung around as long as I could to grab these pictures and yet, there were still many others that I missed.
Those sea nettles and jellies look so harmless floating around. Some even looked downright darn cute (well, at least to me). However, many of these carry stingers on their tentacles. The kind where you really wouldn't want to be close by if you're floating around in the ocean.
My friend insisted that I had to grab photos of the Giant Pacific Octopus. I'm known among my group of foodie friends as "Sotong" (Malay for Squid or Octopus) simply because to them, I was always 'blur like sotong' (local slang for not being very alert).
However, Mr Octopus seemed very camera shy that day. It kept hiding behind its many tentacles.
Schooling Fish Habitat:
Another zone where photo-taking failed. Nevertheless, it was surreal watching those almost transparent fishes. And they look deadly too. Kinda like the angry ghosts of the underwater world. Definitely not to be trifled with.
Coral Garden:
Another coral zone, except this one's a huge cylindrical aquarium. The amount of colourful fishes swimming around was dazzling.

Shipwreck Habitat:

By then, I had enough of fishes. So thankfully, other creatures started popping up. Blue lobsters, spider crabs, lion fishes, and even weird-looking leafy seahorses! Those seahorses looked like they would be right at home in the Narnia books!
By the time you hit shipwreck habitat, you would know that you're at the end of the S.E.A Aquarium. And perhaps, you might have had enough of jostling crowds (especially on weekends) and the blue-lighted environment. 
While S.E.A Aquarium is billed as one of the bigger aquariums around, you should be able to comfortably complete the entire aquarium in 2 hours. If you're a photography enthusiast, perhaps a bit more time will be needed. Those of you who aren't exactly into that many fishes, then significantly less, you might even be able to complete the entire circuit in an hour.

Personally, I found that I enjoyed myself, even with the crowds around (and I'm not the crowd or child friendly type). The young and the old should also have a ball of a time touring the place. Parents would also likely appreciate the educational aspects that the S.E.A. Aquarium has attempted to build in.
Possibly the only set-back would be the price of admission. Local Singaporean adults pay an admission price of SGD$28 while foreign visitors have to fork out SGD$32. That sort of admission price might be considered hefty to some, particularly when you might be in there for only 2 hours or less. This was the main reason why I never got around to visiting until the discounted tickets.
However, do note that there are other programmes available should you choose to visit. The S.E.A Aquarium has options such as a Shark Dive, A PADI dive, etc that you may wish to sign up for.
Details are all listed in their website, and I've provided the link below.
There is also a underwater restaurant within the aquarium grounds. You may also choose to have a meal there while gazing at the underwater display. Pretty sure that would have upped your experience a notch. Likewise, details are also available in the website.
Tourist Information
S.E.A Aquarium
Address: 8 Sentosa Gateway. Sentosa Island, Singapore 098269
DID: +65 6577 8888
Opening hours: Usually 10 am to 7 pm. However, please check website in case there are selected closing dates.
Admission Fees: