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|Finally, our very own Oceanarium (Manila
Ocean Park opens in December)
By Jaser A. Marasigan
The Philippines may be the center of marine diversity in the world, but ironically, the country doesn’t have an oceanarium to boast of, like the ones in Hong Kong, Singapore or Japan.
"Better late than never," remarked Robert
Dean Barbers, Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA) general manager, as the
country is set to open its first world-class marine park in December.
The Biggest in Asia
Manila Ocean Park president Lim Chee Yong proudly said that the marine park would be among the most advanced ocean parks in Asia. It could also well be one of the biggest in Asia with an area larger than the famous Sentosa oceanarium in Singapore.
"Sentosa is 6,000 square meters while this one is 8,000 square meters," Lim said. He also compared the Manila Ocean Park with Hong Kong Ocean Park adding that although it has lots of fun rides, "the Hong Kong Ocean Park showcases a smaller oceanarium."
The Oceanarium will feature more than 20,000 marine inhabitants of approximately 300 species. And unlike other oceanariums in Asia, the Manila Ocean Park will be getting marine species from our own waters.
"The park aims to combine education with entertainment," said Barbers. "One of the main thrusts of Manila Ocean Park is to promote awareness about marine conservation and preservation."
A memorandum of agreement was signed recently by the Manila Ocean Park and the Department of Education (DepEd) to develop a comprehensive school program and an advocacy campaign dubbed "Love for Marine Life" to be included in the curriculum of students in Grade 3 and 4.
"We expect some 1.5 million visitors to Manila Ocean Park in 2008," said Tina Santos, Manila Ocean Park marketing manager.
A team of marine biologists and scientists has been working together with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in putting together the various aquariums. She added that the park would not include protected and endangered species.
On a daily basis, an appoximately 10,000
guests can be accommodated in the park. Aside from providing jobs to 2,000
Filipinos, the project would earn the government Php 20 million annually
in rental fees.
A Deeper Experience
The Manila Ocean Park’s Oceanarium promises a "deeper experience" as it features an assortment of colorful fishes and invertebrates indigenous to the Philippines and Southeast Asia contained in 12,000 cubic meters of seawater.
The Oceanarium journey is divided into six sections and each section will carry a Filipino name: "Agos"; "Bahura"; "Buhay na Karagatan"; "Pating"; "Ang Kailaliman"; and "Laot".
replicates the water flow from a fresh water source that eventually leads to the open ocean, creating a model of interconnectedness between land and sea.
It then takes one through the different depths of the sea showcasing each area’s beautiful and natural inhabitants.
Its main attraction is a 25-meter long, 220 degree curved acrylic walkway tunnel. Visitors will be exploring the secrets of the ocean and surrounded by such underwater wonders without actually getting wet.
The Oceanarium also has a multi-purpose hall which will house interactive multi-media educational exhibits and capable of hosting various functions.
After the journey, one can enjoy a sumptuous
meal at "Tagpuan", an al fresco dining facility. Entrance fees will range
between Php 200 (for students) to Php 400.
Aside from the Oceanarium, Manila Ocean Park will have a marine–themed mall and a boutique hotel, which are scheduled to open late next year. The mall will feature new and unique shops that are not commonly found in other malls and a unique restaurant row located at the rear of the facility, alongside a promenade that offers an unobstructed view of the Manila Bay. This part of the park is free and accessible to the public.
The 120-room hotel will also have a marine theme. Rooms facing the bay will have an uninterrupted view of the ocean and the renowned Manila Bay sunset, while others will have one wall of aquarium in the privacy of their own room, which will be a first-of-its-kind in the world.
The Concourse Plaza, located at the main entrance of the park is the central activity area for the facility. This is where various big events will take place throughout the year.
For those who would like to snorkel or even dive without having to go to far-flung places, the two Open Water Marine Habitats will give you that exact experience. This facility is scheduled to open in April 2008.
Manila Ocean Park is owned by China Oceanis
Philippines Inc., a subsidiary of China Oceanis Inc., a Singaporean-registered
firm that has operated four oceanariums in China.
|Finally, world-class marine park in
By Margaux Ortiz
MANILA, Philippines -- Imagine going to
Manila Bay and coming face-to-face with a shark or even a school of fierce
The ocean park, a P1-billion project of Singaporean and Malaysian investors, is the first world-class marine park to adopt a “fusion concept,” according to Manila Ocean Park president Lim Chee Yong. Lim said the concept entailed bringing together an oceanarium, a mall, a boutique hotel, a restaurant row and open marine habitats -- where marine enthusiasts could learn to swim and dive with the fishes. “The park will house the first and largest aquarium facility in the Philippines,” Lim announced during a walking tour with the media Wednesday at the site.
He said that both the oceanarium and the open marine habitats would contain 12,000 cubic meters of seawater featuring 300 marine species indigenous to the Philippines and Southeast Asia.
Larger than Sentosa’s
“Sentosa is 6,000 square meters while this
one is 8,000 sqm,” Lim said. He also compared Manila’s upcoming marine
park with Hong Kong’s Ocean Park, “which has lots of fun rides but showcases
a smaller oceanarium.”
Species from Philippine waters
“All over the world, people have been saying
that our country is the center of marine biodiversity,” Barbers said.
Lim said the project would be composed
of three phases, with the oceanarium as the first phase. It would be completed
and opened to the public this December. “The second phase, which
includes the marine-themed mall and the hotel, and the third phase, the
open marine habitats, would be completed next year,” Lim said.
Aside from providing jobs to 2,000 Filipinos, the project would enable the government to earn P20 million annually in rental fees. “After 5 years, there would be an incremental increase of 5 or 10 percent per year. We would also get a share from the income,” Barbers said.
During the walking tour conducted as a “sneak peek” for the media, officials and personnel of the Manila Ocean Park showed the different parts of the oceanarium, now 80 percent complete. The “oceanarium journey” is divided into six sections, each one carrying a Filipino name to exhibit national pride, according to the park’s vice president Cristina Romualdez.
The first section, called Agos (Flow), features a rainforest-theme with eight tanks containing freshwater species.
“This part of the oceanarium -- the only open area in the facility -- shows the interconnectedness between the water and land,” Romualdez said. Agos would also feature an artificial waterfall and a touch pool, where children could interact with creatures such as starfish and shrimps.
The next section, called Bahura or the
Reef, would exhibit artificial corals in 48 tanks, complete with their
scientific and common names, and their roles in the ecosystem. Laot (Fishing
Ground), on the other hand, would feature big fish and Eagle-spotted rays
in a long tank.
“Other oceanarium tunnels only have 180-degree curved walls. The Manila Ocean Park tunnel in effect, would give patrons a better viewing experience,” Romualdez said. She said one wall of the tunnel would feature corals and small fishes, while the other wall would exhibit big fishes like sharks and rays.
A school of barracudas would be seen swimming
in a large tank at the Kalaliman (The Deep) section of the oceanarium.
There would also be a shark tank and an overhead aquarium featuring the
breathtaking beauty of rays, Romualdez said.
She said the Manila Ocean Park would not include protected and endangered species such as whale sharks and other sea mammals.
A team of marine biologists and scientists has been working to ensure that the types of fish put together could live well with each other in the tanks, Romualdez said. “We are very careful about the fish display. We are aware that we have a responsibility also -- both to the public and the environment,” she said.
Manila Ocean Park is owned by China Oceanis Philippines Inc., a subsidiary of China Oceanis Inc., a Singaporean-registered firm that has operated four oceanariums in China.
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