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Kaiyukan Osaka Aquarium

Photo: Christopher Chan on Flickr

Kaiyukan Osaka Aquarium

Melicia Hewitt

Kaiyukan Osaka Aquarium (大阪海遊館) is one of the biggest aquariums in the world. It has 15 different tanks totaling over 10,000 tons of water. The biggest tank is 30 feet deep and 34 meters long. It has over 5,400 tons of water and whale sharks. Whale sharks?! Yes whale sharks. Whale sharks got their name for having a mouth shaped like a Baleen whale. They are the biggest fish in the world. They can reach a length of more than 40 meters, and weight of more than 20 tons. The only known predator of the whale shark is human beings. You can view them in the Pacific Ocean section of Kaiyukan Osaka Aquarium. The aquarium exhibits over 30,000 marine creatures representing over 620 species. The entrance fee is ‎¥2,300 and it is open from 10:00 to 20:00 hours.

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Kaiyukan Osaka Aquarium has been designed around James Lovelock's theory of Gaia. This theory postulates that the earth is a complex, self-regulating, evolving living system. Thus, our interactions with other living orgasms, and the atmosphere affects earth's habitability. In accordance with the theory of Gaia, Kaiyukan Osaka Aquarium recreates the diverse natural environments around the Pacific Rim.

Whale Shark

Whale Shark

My aquatic journey began at the Aqua gate. Here, I walked through a tunnel shaped tank that made me feel as if I were breathing underwater. Various fishes including rays, swam on my left, my right and above me.

Aqua gate

Aqua gate

Photo: DR Guylène Le Mignot on Japan Experience

After the short interaction, I went up to the 8th floor. Here, I sashayed through 'Japan's Forest.' Japan Forest exhibits the Asian Small-Clawed Otters and a Giant Japanese Salamander.

Japan Forest

Japan Forest

Japan Forest led to a spiral slope, which allowed me to admire the marine life on display in different tanks. This spiral design allowed me to observe fish from different perspectives, at different depths. Soon, I was at the Aleutian Islands tank, where I saw Sea Otters. At the Monterey Bay tank, I observed 'Harbor Seals' and the feeding of 'California Sea Lions'.

California Sea Lions

California Sea Lions

Further down the slope, is the Gulf of Panama. Here, the Ring-tailed Coati and Long-Spine Porcupine fish stand out. At Ecuador Rain Forest, the Pirarucu fish and Capybara captures and sustains attention. Further still is Antarctica, where various penguins (Adelie, King, Gentoo, etc.), captured my heart with their sounds, waddling, swimming and water jumps.

Penguins

Penguins

Soon, my feet led me to the Tasman Sea. Here, Pacific White Sided Dolphins swam so fast they looked like blurs. I laughed with glee, during their feeding time, as they jumped and did tricks for food. At the Great Barrier Reef, the fish seemed to glow in the dark. The corals were mesmerizing and I did lose track of time admiring their beauty.

Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef

Next was the Pacific Ocean tank. This is the aforementioned largest tank in the Aquarium with Whale Sharks, Scalloped Hammerheads, Japanese Jack Mackerel, and more. The Seto Inland Sea tank, has Spiny Lobsters and common Octopuses on display. The following tank, is for seasonal exhibits. During my visit the Ocean Sunfish was on display.

Ocean Sunfish

Ocean Sunfish

The Coast of Chile tank boasts Japanese Anchovies. The Cook Strait, boasts the loggerhead sea turtle. Japan Deep tank has Japanese Spider Crabs, which are the biggest crabs in the world.

Japanese Spider Crab

Japanese Spider Crab

At the interactive section, there are three tanks. The first tank is the Artic, where I saw smiling ringed seals.

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At the second tank, the Falkland Islands, rock hopper penguins seem to dance like Happy Feet on the rocks and in the water.

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The third tank, is for touching rays and sharks.

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This aquarium seeks to give visitors 'the feel of the ocean'. There is a touch zone that allows visitors to touch sharks and rays that swim close to the surface.

It also has the world's largest dome shaped ceiling tank that allows for closer interaction with ringed seals. Not to mention, the Rock Hopper penguins are kept in an open air exhibition tank allowing visitors to have a more intimate experience.