I had the pleasure of following an exuberant toddler around the Two Oceans Aquarium for the better part of an afternoon. Each new display elicited an animated babble of ‘Turtle! Shark! Fiiiiiish!’ Those one-dimensional underwater creatures from the pages of storybooks were brought to life in front of her for the first time. It was pure, wide-eyed magic.
The I&J Predator Exhibit is the aquarium’s pièce de résistance, a whopping two-million-litre tank cohabited by loggerhead turtles, ragged-tooth sharks and rays, not to mention impressively sized shoals of yellowtail, kob, geelbek and musselcracker. Feedings take place daily at 3 pm, and the sharks are fed at 3 pm on Sundays.
Through the glass tunnel and on to the River Meander Exhibit, kids will be enchanted by the quizzical African and rockhopper penguins (they do bite, so heed the warning signs), African black oystercatchers and a selection of freshwater fish. Little feet are drawn to puddles along the edges of displays, so gumboots aren’t a bad idea.
The touch pools allow small fry to get even closer to some of the more approachable creatures of the sea and a team of knowledgeable staff and volunteers will happily answer any questions (Why does the hermit crab carry his home around with him all day? And how does the male seahorse give birth? Hmm, indeed).
Big and small appetites are catered for at the Shoreline Cafe, but the real highlight here is the dedicated play centre, complete with childminders, so parents can really kick back on the sun-soaked deck and take in the harbour views. Kids parties can also be arranged, with all the trimmings – a catered lunch and sea-themed birthday cake, fun decor and activities, party boxes and more.
There’s also plenty going on outside the aquarium, where the construction of a brand new large-scale exhibit is well under way. Keep an eye on our website and Facebook page for opening dates and upcoming specials.
Sign up as a member of the Two Oceans Aquarium before 30 September 2014 and qualify for the discounted annual membership rate of R260 for adults.
Where Dock Road, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
When The aquarium is open 365 days a year from 9:30 am to 6 pm.
Cost Adults R112, children (14 to 17 years) R87, children (4 to 13 years) R55 and under 4 years enter for free.
Contact +27 21 418 3823, www.aquarium.co.za
Photography Courtesy images