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Melbourne Aquarium Melbourne Aquarium

Discussion in 'Australia' started by snowleopard, 18 May 2008.

  1. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Melbourne Aquarium

    Has anyone heard anything more on this $20 million Antarctic expansion? When I visited the Melbourne Aquarium in June 2007 I was thoroughly disappointed and spent less than 2 hours in the establishment. That time frame includes the gift shop and entrance, as well as going on a free, 20 minute behind the scenes tour. The place is so tiny and lacks any knock-out exhibits, but I'm excited for Melbournians that they will have a slightly better aquarium by the end of this year.
     
  2. PAT

    PAT Well-Known Member

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    I've heard that they will be importing two species of anterctic penguins from kelly tarltons in new zealand for the exhibit but not much else, not even which two species they are.
     
  3. NZ Jeremy

    NZ Jeremy Well-Known Member

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    Gentoo Penguins
    King Penguins

    About 80 in total...
     
  4. aw101

    aw101 Well-Known Member

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    The Melbourne Aquarium is truly sub standard, the exhibits are very gimmicky and tacky. The first exhibit is of fish cramped in a tiny tank to demonstrate schooling in the open sea, which can not be compared in any way to the huge platypus display that greets visitors as they enter the Sydney Aquarium.

    The Melbourne Aquarium is actually located in a prime location right across from the Crown Casino complex and Southbank, on the bank of the Yarra River, and there is lots of vacant land surrounding the aquarium so it definitely has the potential to expand and build some world class exhibits.

    I have only been once and that was over 2 years ago, I remember they charged quite a bit for admission and it was definitely not worth the price of admission. I will go and check out the penguin exhibit when it opens....but I was hoping that they would have an Arctic theme instead and exhibit beluga whales, now that would be one amazing exhibit!!

    ADMISSION PRICES
    Adult: $26.50
    Child (3-15yrs): $16.00
    Concession: $18.00
     
  5. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @aw101: I agree 100% with your short review. I've been to a number of aquariums, and Melbourne's is my least favourite. The amazing thing is that it isn't even very old, and should be state-of-the-art, with many outstanding exhibits. As it is there is simply not one enclosure that stands out as superb, and I'm crossing my fingers that when the penguins go in there it will improve the overall visitor experience.
     
  6. NZ Jeremy

    NZ Jeremy Well-Known Member

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    I enjoyed the "reverse gold fish bowl"... It is great design wise IMO...
     
  7. PAT

    PAT Well-Known Member

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    There was one tank that i really liked but i've only been once and i was a little younger so i may not remember properly. It had stingrays and was meant to copy a lagoon. I had rain machines that went off every now and then and was nicely planted. And my favorite thing about it was that you could see above and below the water.
     
  8. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    that would be the estuarine/mangrove tank with rays, elephantfish etc. Its one of my favourite tanks there (mainly because I really like elephantfish) but unfortunately they are going to be (or maybe already have done) turning it into another billabong tank for freshwater fish.

    In complete contrast to the other posts here, I really like Melbourne Aquarium. I go to aquariums to see new and interesting species; I'm not so shallow that I'm only impressed by the floor area or by giant tanks with tunnels through them or whatever other rubbishy things people judge an aquarium by.
     
  9. NZ Jeremy

    NZ Jeremy Well-Known Member

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    I love the theme... A journey through Australian and Southern waters...

    I need to go again because apart from Kelly Tarlton's this was the first Public Aquarium I had been too and I remember it through rose coloured glasses...

    I was impressed by all the tanks there (at the time) and the majority of the species were new to me...

    It was the first place I saw a diver talking while underwater and the main tank, the reverse fish bowl, is an amazing technical feat...
     
  10. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @NZ Jeremy and Chlidonias: both of you guys love aquariums, and you are each very knowledgeable when it comes to all types of aquatic institutions. I know that Childonias works in an aquarium, and that Jeremy wants to either work in an aquarium or work specifically for a firm that designs aquarium exhibits. I respect your views here at ZooBeat, but also want to clarify my own thoughts towards Melbourne Aquarium.

    The problem with ranking or discussing aquariums is that an individual's opinion is based on subjectivity, meaning that what one person thinks is terrific another might be disappointed with. My wife and I are toying with the idea of even moving to Melbourne, as we would love to live in Australia and she has family there. I would like nothing better than for that amazing city to have a world-class aquarium, but there's no way that I personally believe the present one is even close.

    I have the visitor guide/map in front of me, and just spent 15 minutes going through the Melbourne Aquarium's website, and there is absolutely nothing world-class about the place whatsoever. But perhaps myself and others have been a little harsh in our short reviews, as there are a number of decent exhibits that were good but not spectacular. After spending hours in Monterey Bay Aquarium, visiting Seattle Aquarium twice, going to Vancouver Aquarium at least 8 times in my life, seeing the wonders of San Diego's Seaworld, and also spending time in other aquariums then it's difficult to even compare Melbourne's with anywhere else. Even Sydney, with the spectacular acryclic tunnel passage, seal habitat, platypus, crocodile, and other exhibits is far superior to Melbourne's decent but not great set of tanks.

    The ground floor level at Melbourne Aquarium has lots of visitor amenities, and the Tattersall, Sink or Swim and Coral Atoll set of tanks are all well done. I give this as faint praise, but I've seen everything there done bigger and better in other establishments. Level one has the excellent Mangrove tank, which in hindsight is actually quite pleasing and a worthwhile exhibit. The Billabong tank is also a highlight, but the rock pools and Victoria's hidden treasures sections are good but average. I quite liked the Creepy Cave and thinking back now might give that section more praise, and this floor was definitely my favourite of the three levels.

    The Ocean Down Under is done well but again is unspectacular. The diversity of fish in the tank is intriguing, but divers going in to feed these denizens of the deep is nothing new and pretty much every major aquarium around the world has similar shows. The 12 Apostles Lookout section was a waste of space, and having actually visited the 12 Apostles beforehand I felt that this area could have been replaced with a large tank. There is definitely a little bit of room there for something new and exciting.

    Overall Melbourne Aquarium is still quite small, and that perhaps is the biggest complaint that people have of the place. It is a fairly new aquarium, and there are several exhibits (Mangrove and Billabong being #1 and #2 in my opinion) that are perhaps worthy of acclaim. But for someone who has been to some of the big boys, and who plans to visit John G. Shedd in Chicago and Georgia Aquarium this summer) then Melbourne's is rather disappointing.

    My goal is not to offend anyone with this review, as everyone has different guidelines of excellence in judging zoos and aquariums. Some zoos I've visited have been very small, and yet quality over quantity is a wonderful trait in an establishment. If I had only been to a series of smaller aquariums around North America then I'm sure I would have been thrilled to visit Melbourne, but it lacks that killer, knockout exhibit. As it is the larger, more innovative aquariums are eye-catching and stunning, and Melbourne for me was a major letdown.

    Bring on the penguins!! For $20 million there should be an awesome exhibit opening later on in 2008, and next time I visit the aquarium I'm sure that I'll grant it a kinder review.
     
  11. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    indeed all aquarium/zoo visits are entirely subjective and I'm happy to criticise if I see the need. For example (and I've mentioned this before on another thread), on consecutive days in Thailand I went to Underwater World in Pattaya and Bang Saen Aquarium in Chonburi. Pattaya was all touristy and flash with lots of money spent, it had nice tanks and a biggish ocean tank with tunnel, etc, but it was a soul-less place that left me entirely unimpressed. Bang Saen in contrast is a University aquarium catering largely to locals from what I saw, and the tanks were on the whole ugly concrete boxes dressed up with coral rock. There were no tunnels or interactive touch-screens but it had heart and all the species were local; I considered it money well spent. Your average visitor would have had an entirely opposite view to mine where these two aquariums were concerned, but I was judging them on their own merits not on expectations garnered from other establishments.

    Almost any aquarium is going to come off looking bad if compared to, say, Monterey Bay or Osaka's Ring of Fire, but its like comparing apples and oranges. Its as if you say that Jersey Zoo sucks because it isn't as big as San Diego or doesn't have multi-million pound exhibits like Chester or because it doesn't have elephants.

    That's just my opinion on aquarium visits
     
  12. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @Chlidonias: so you don't like "nice tanks, and a biggish ocean tank with tunnel" in aquariums? You prefer "ugly concrete boxes dressed up with coral rock"? I see that you work at a very small aquarium, so I can immediately comprehend the fact that your heart tugs you in that direction. But the long underwater tunnels that are slowly but surely invading many aquariums worldwide are tremendously popular, with people of all ages clicking away incessantly with their cameras. Interactive touch screens are fantastic for childen, as it allows them to participate in the learning about exhibits. You admit that the average visitor would have an entirely opposite view to you, but I'm beginning to think that 95% of visitors would have an entirely opposite opinion towards aquariums. More people will visit San Diego Seaworld's amazing underwater shark tunnel in the next 7 days than will visit the Southern Encounter Aquarium in the next 365 days...and one of the reasons (besides geography) is the terrific exhibits that are on display in California.

    I did say that quality over quantity is a wonderful trait in an establishment, and I can assure you that some of my favourite zoos have been the smaller ones. But Melbourne Aquarium lacks any world-class exhibits, as even you must admit that its closest rival Sydney provides a better all-around experience. Melbourne is small and so-so. If you've been to Sydney Aquarium then you'll have an idea of what a superior aquarium looks like, but even Sydney is not one of the top-ranked aquariums worldwide. It's actually a little shocking that Australia has yet to produce a truly awesome aquarium.
     
  13. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    I think you may be missing my point somewhat. I don't "prefer" ugly tanks over fancy ones, and I don't dislike tunnels per se. Whether an Aquarium has a tunnel or not is entirely irrelevant to the argument. Tunnels, interactive screens, and whatever else, are certainly popular and I am in no way opposed to them. I am just saying that I judge each Aquarium on itself, not on what others have or do not have. If an Aquarium doesn't have a tank big enough to accommodate whale sharks or if it can't even afford an animatronic orca, that doesn't devalue it in my eyes. Aquaria in Kuala Lumpur and Siam Ocean World in Bangkok are both big and brash but I like them both. I think that Monterey Bay is one of the finest Aquariums in the world. But that doesn't preclude me from also being of the opinion that Bang Saen or Melbourne are just as good. They're just good in different ways.

    Working in a (very) small Aquarium certainly doesn't predispose me to preferring small over big, and to say so is frankly ridiculous; it simply means that I may be able to better appreciate the finer points that persons obsessed with spectacle cannot.

    The comment about zoo comparisons in my last post remains apt.
     
  14. NZ Jeremy

    NZ Jeremy Well-Known Member

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    Hey guys, I personally wasn't saying I found Melbourne world class but I enjoyed my time there... I enjoyed it much more than Sydney, Sydney to me seemed a bit run down when I was there, the seal tank was poor at best, the crocodile seemed stuffed, Melbourne's main tank I found very impressive the almost 360 degree coral tank was great too...

    Arcylic tunnels are in their infancy, mark my words, in the next decade or so there will be 360 degree viewing tunnels, recreated habitats that will be much more realistic than zoo ones, I think rating an aquarium like Monterey (which I believe to be one of the best in the world) higher because it doesn't have tunnels to be erroneous...
     
  15. Coquinguy

    Coquinguy Well-Known Member

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    I think Melbourne Aquarium well and truly sucks. It rates an incredibly poor third behind Sydney Aquarium and Perth's AQWA IMO. Its about as good as London's aquarium.
    Even with the new Arctic bit they need to renovate the existing sections and raise them to a standard higher than they currently are.
    as impressive as huge, walk-through ocean exhibits are, a selection of smaller ones using ingenuity and creativity and attention to detail above and below the water can make a smaller aquarium just as spectacular as the mega-establishments. sadly, Melbourne Aquarium is distinctly underwhelming
     
  16. aw101

    aw101 Well-Known Member

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    The Sydney Aquarium has the amazing Great Barrier Reef feature tank, which is massive and has an amazing variety of fish inside. The coral atoll at the Melbourne Aquarium is small and the main feature is a maori wrasse which is way too large for that sized tank.

    The walk through aquarium too is really small and the fish inside are not particularly interesting, just looks like fish collected from off shore farms, mostly silver fish that swim in schools with a few sting rays and nurse sharks, and maybe a few sea turtles. They desperately need some more exciting fish species, maybe an eagle ray or a saw shark....it just lacks the wow factor...

    Is the tank with the silver sharks still there? I thought it was tacky, you can see that at any pet shop you go to. The Sydney Aquarium would never be so unoriginal and boring.

    By the way, I thought the floor to ceiling circular exhibit at the Sydney Aquarium housing Anthia fish to be fantastically well done, the colour and variety of the fish were amazing....

    The Melbourne Aquarium needs some marine mammal species, maybe sea lions or seals...just something interesting. For now, it will appeal mostly to children and families. Not to people who actually know their stuff when it comes to marine life and fish species.
     
  17. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Glyn's comment: "I think Melbourne Aquarium well and truly sucks" was an interesting response, and one that I almost wholeheartedly agree with. There are definitely some praise-worthy exhibits, but overall nothing even remotely spectacular. For those who enjoy the aquarium then it just goes to show that everyone has their own completely valid opinion, as visitors each have different things that they appreciate about any institution showcasing captive wildlife.
     
  18. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @NZ Jeremy: you mentioned how there will be some revolutionary exhibits in aquariums in the future, and that made me think of the new dolphin tank at the Indianapolis Zoo. It has proved to be an enormously popular exhibit. Check out this link of the awesome new underwater viewing area:

    Welcome to the Indianapolis Zoo
     
  19. NZ Jeremy

    NZ Jeremy Well-Known Member

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    I've seen that before Snowleopard and it demonstrates what can be achieved with Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) better known as acrylic or Perspex™, (by the way the tank in the background looks dull doesn't it..?)...

    Here are some concept drawings by a NZ engineering firm waiting for the right project to be completed:

    Acrylic Tunnel Profiles - individual or combined, same tank, T-2.4m, T-2.8m, T-3.4m, T-5m or the revolutionary T-360 profile, full 360 degree acrylic tunnel, all-round viewing
     
  20. Chris79

    Chris79 Well-Known Member

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    Interesting website, but the world's first 360 degree viewing tunnel was actually installed at the National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham, UK, which opened in 1996.