Shanghai Ocean Aquarium

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Last Sunday we finally visited the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium that we have been hearing so much about. The aquarium is known for being one of the largest ocean aquariums in the world and having the world’s longest submarine viewing tunnel measuring 155 meters in length!

Getting to the aquarium is an adventure of its own because of its location in Shanghai’s financial center. It is right next to the beautiful Oriental Pearl TV Tower not far from all the other skyscrapers – including the second tallest tower in the world. In a few months, it will also be next to the first Taco Bell in Shanghai.

The aquarium consists of two pyramid-shaped buildings covering a total are of 20,500 square meters! The aquarium is divided into various exhibition zones including:

  • China Zone

  • South America Zone

  • Australia Zone

  • African Zone

  • Southeast Asia Zone

  • Cold Water Zone

  • Polar Zone

  • Sea and Shore

  • Deep Ocean Zone

  • Special Exhibitions

Despite it being a weekend in China, the aquarium wasn’t too packed and we were able to navigate and enjoy three hours there without too much pushing and shoving. The famous submarine tunnel had a great system where most people stand on a flat moving platform (like the ones they have at airports) to avoid photo-taking traffic.

The aquarium has over 15,000 water creatures and rare fish including jellyfish, moonfish and leafy sea dragons! The jellyfish exhibit was probably one of our favorites. They were beautifully displayed in a floor-to-ceiling tank stretching across the hall. It was illuminated with black lights that turned the majestic creatures neon-colored!

You can expect more than just the regular fish that you’d expect to find in an aquarium, like a large alligator that chills peacefully with black swans and turtles. Most of the exhibits have signs in both Chinese and English, but if you’re particularly curious I recommend renting an audio guide. A handful of the exhibitions had no non-audio information and left us guessing at what we were looking at.

Another highlight of the aquarium are the animal feedings. They are done twice a day:

         Spotted seal (Coldwater Zone)
9:45-9:55 & 14:15-14:25

         Penguin (Antarctic Zone)
10:00-10:15 & 14:30-14:45

         The Open Ocean (Deep Ocean Zone)
10:30-10:45 & 15:00-15:15

         Schooling Seas (Deep Ocean Zone)
10:50-11:00 & 15:20-15:30

         Shark Cove (Deep Ocean Zone)
10:50-11:10 & 15:20-15:40

They are timed so that you can move from one feeding to the other at a leisurely pace. Keep in mind that you can only go one way, so time your visit with the feeding time in mind! We got a bit too distracted by the jellyfish and missed out on good sting-ray feeding sitting spots. We still caught a few humorous moments from the back of the crowd, including a sting ray hungrily nibbling on the diver’s head.

All in all, it was a great experience worth the 160 RMB ($24) we paid for the tickets. For aquarium enthusiasts, it is possible to buy an annual card for just under 400 RMB ($58). Although we didn’t purchase the annual card, we are already planning another trip in Spring time.

The Shanghai Ocean Aquarium has a great website in English with all the information you could possible want about the aquarium. You can also read more about the aquarium, and nearby attractions, on Travel China Guide.

Take a look at our video featuring highlights from the aquarium:



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