Having undergone an extensive five-month, $8 million rehaul, Melbourne Aquarium was reborn as Sea Life in September 2013. Over three levels there are 12 new themed zones of discovery (each with its own soundtrack!), and kids can get their passport stamped at each station.
Time Out got a guided tour, taking in the Mermaid Garden, Seahorse Pier (home to Australia’s largest seahorse population), Rainforest Adventure, the Coral Caves and, of course, the state-of-the-art Croc Lair. The latter is now home to 50-year-old, five-metre croc Pinjarra, who the team had a great time getting down from Rockhampton in Queensland, where he was terrorising the other crocs on a Crocodile Farm.
Other moments that elicited oohs and ahhs were the Elephant Sharks in the Bay of Rays (any creature that makes us laugh by sheer appearance alone is okay by us); the King and Gentoo Penguins, who were embroiled in a nesting season soap opera we could have watched for hours; Mr G the 200lb Giant Queensland Groper (the divers here call him “sir”); the rock pools in which you’re welcome to get your hands wet, and the Archer Fish, for which you are encouraged to dangle flies on a fishing line, which in turn makes the fish spit spectacularly.
Of course, all the old favourites like the jellyfish, and the stingrays flying over your head as you pass through tunnels are still intact. They come when the staff ring a bell, you know. It means they’re going to get fed.
There are daily feeding times and presentations, kids’ birthday party packages and even the chance to dive face-to-face with the leviathans themselves!