One our favorite places to go on Okinawa is to the AMAZING Aquarium they have just outside of Nago in Motobu. The Aquarium is actually the second largest in the world.
It houses a variety of creatures, but one of the biggest draws is the Giant Tank that is home to several Whale Sharks. The main tank also called the Kuroshio Sea, is 35 meters (115 feet) long, 27 meters (89 feet) wide and 10 meters (33 feet) deep. This tank is MASSIVE. It would have to be to house the largest known extant fish species, the Whale Shark. For those that don’t know a whale shark is a filter feeding shark that mainly eats Plankton and can live for about 70 years. (I learned something new today too.)
Another fun fact for you about the aquarium, if you are a photographer or photo enthusiast. The pictures of an Aquarium with silhouetted people in front that the manufacture uses to show lens quality is actually taken at the Okinawa Aquarium. The tank is actually several stories tall, so you can stand back and be able to capture the image yourself if you have the inclination.
Anyway back to the Aquarium. You actually start your journey in the building by first passing several smaller tanks that house a large variety of sea creatures and fish. I am always amazed at what I learn each time we go.
One of my favorite things to do is try to find fish that my four year old daughter might recognize. We were lucky on our last visit to the aquarium to come across a Blue Tang or Palette Surgeonfish (Dory from Finding Nemo). My daughter was very excited about finding her.
Just next to the Main tank there is a Shark area that includes a tank housing several sharks. When I need a rest I like to sit on the edge of the tank and watch the sharks swirl around.
Also in the room is a ton of shark related displays and information. One of the main attractions in there aside from the live sharks is the full set of shark teeth on display. You can pose with it and have a truly unique and terrifying image to take home. I was able to get this picture of my daughter and me when she was only 2 years old and didn’t realize where I had her. Nowadays she wont go near the teeth.
Once you are finished with the main aquarium building you can move on to see the sea turtles. There is a separate building for the sea turtles and the aquarium is famous for having baby sea turtles born there every year. Actually several parts of Okinawa are well known for sea turtles laying their eggs. At the sea turtle area you are able to see a variety of sea turtles from new hatchlings to full grown mature turtles.
Next to the Turtle building you can find 2 dolphin areas. Here they offer dolphin encounters, viewing, and live shows. We have only so far been fortunate enough to see one show since we have started going, but it was pretty spectacular to me. When the shows are not happening there are windows on the side of the tanks where you can watch the dolphins and if you are lucky get them to come to you. My daughter loves to try to play with them or chase them.
The aquarium is pretty awesome. We have been about 4 times already in our almost 3 years on Okinawa and I know we will be going several more times. If you live on island and think this will be a place you like to visit I highly recommend getting the annual pass. Once you go twice it is paid for. Definitely worth it.
If you want to see a little of what the Aquarium has to offer check out this video made by my Husband, Ryan Burger with Burger Photography.
Here is the website for the Aquarium: Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium