Asia Travel News

China opens the world's biggest aquarium

You don't have to be scuba diving to see manta rays, sharks or sea turtles swim overhead any more. In fact, you don't even need to be in the water. Thanks to China's record-breaking Hengqin Ocean Kingdom park, you can see some of the world's largest fish from the sidelines of the Earth's most massive aquarium.

Setting several world records
According to Guinness World Records, the tremendous fish tank took five titles, including the world's largest aquarium. In total, the theme park attraction includes seven themed areas representing different parts of the ocean and encapsulates 12.87 million gallons of salt and fresh water. The other four records now held by the Chinese aquarium include, the largest acrylic panel, largest aquarium window, largest underwater viewing dome and largest aquarium tank.

The park's whale shark exhibit tank broke all of the records, holding just under 6 million gallons of salt water.

The sea life
From impressive schools of fish to tropical spotted dolphins, the amount and sheer size of the aquatic creatures is stunning. According to the Daily Mail, the 325-acre aquarium houses 10 whale sharks along with the other sea life. Even one whale shark may be considered impressive - it is the largest fish in the ocean, according to National Geographic - but Hengqin Ocean Kingdom managed to safely and humanely fit 10 of these gargantuan creatures into its whale shark exhibit tank. Growing up to 40 feet long, these salt water carnivores are similar to a school bus in size.

Another incredibly rare sight, the aquarium also houses China's near-extinct white dolphin. According to CNN, this aquatic mammal - iconic for its pinkish skin tone - may not exist within just a few years. The news agency reported that only 61 of the dolphins remained as of 2012, according to the Chairman of the Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society. According to BBC News, Hengqin Ocean Kingdom has also donated roughly $160,000 to the White Dolphin Protection Fund.

"The Orlando of China"
The International Business Times reported that the developer of the aquarium - Guangdong Chimelong Group - aims to transform Hengqin Island into "the Orlando of China." The resort stated that its goal is to be the first attraction in China to combine animal exhibits, amusement park rides and entertainment. It attracted 500,000 guests for the aquarium's soft opening in January, according to the Daily Mail. The developer has also invested billions of dollars in the theme park and hotel.

Seeing the colorful fish and massive whale sharks can be breathtaking underneath the brilliant glass dome in a Chinese theme park, but it's nothing like swimming with the animals. In Mozambique, scuba diving with the enormous whale sharks and manta rays can be incredible. Whale sharks are some of the gentle giants of the ocean. More whale than shark, these creatures feed mostly on plankton and smaller prey. They don't pose any threat to humans.

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