That Indonesia should have a Seaworld is only right and natural because Indonesia is the World's largest island nation. There are 17,508 islands the last time anybody counted. Education of the marine heritage of the nation is important along with promoting a wonderment and appreciation of the natural world.
Underwater World opened in 1996. In spite of the claim by Sentosa Underwater World the one here in Indonesia is bigger. Better? Yes and no. Each go about some aspects in different ways so both are worth visiting.
Along with Aquariums everywhere they have jumped on the bandwagon and started a Fish Spa which they give the novel name of Holoquarium. I suppose this could a play on the word holistic and so implying a natural magic.Clever! Or is it because they have so very cleverly combined the Fish Spa with the The Anti Gravity Atmospheric Pressure Fish Tank...because they have. Brilliant and educational too. This new innovation has been introduced since my visit.
This is one of a series of zoo reports that was actually included within my travel journal ‘The Itinerant ZooKeeper’. Initially I started to extract the zoo data but found the reading was diminished by it. So look on it as a zoo/travelogue. The only major edits I have done is a little censoring and to remove the Casanova exploits.
Sunday 18th June 2006
First visit today was to Seaworld Indonesia, located on the coast about fifty minutes from Jakarta central. I went there with my 'usual' taxi driver, Basuki R (pimp). We listened to variety of music on the radio When The Eagles, 'Hotel California' came on Basuki started to sing along. His interpretation of the words was so far out that he was, in effect, singing an entirely different song. I didn't point out his mistake as it conjured up fond memories of my long time ex Rosemary M who did the same with any song. Her command of English was very quaint. It was her other talents that kept me endlessly fascinated.
Basuki has now become quite a good friend. His wife speaks much better English than he and although we have never met I have had several conversations with her on the phone.
Seaworld is set within a massive Disneyworld type complex called Ancol Dreamworld which contains a multitude of entertainment offerings. There is even a beach front which was packed with picnickers and swimmers when we arrived. Within this fantasy land there is a huge graveyard. All neat and tidy, rows of stones. In actuality no-one knows how many people are
buried here. This is the last resting place to the numerous Dutch, Commonwealth and Indonesian men and women executed by the Japanese.
Seaworld Indonesia is trade marked so does it mean it is connected to Seaworlds in the US and Australia? I dug around on the internet but could not come up with a connection. This is the first place I have ever visited where I got a discounted price because of my age. I didn't know whether to be pleased or annoyed. It wasn't as if I asked. The girl must have thought I looked over the hill. Maybe she is right. I have had a few rough nights and can feel my facial muscles twitching.
Actually I liked Seaworld... well most of it. It was well laid out with excellent educational signage supplemented by regular talks and available staff. They plugged all aspects of conservation and the importance of the people of Indonesia understanding their natural heritage. There was even a reasonably well stocked small library upstairs with supervised public access. The living specimens were supplemented by a small museum and some differently displayed deep sea fishes.
There were three touch pools. One contained a dozen or so Hawksbill Turtles and another around 15 Black Tipped Reef Sharks. Now this was definitely different. I am steadily increasing my appreciation of the genuine importance of 'hands on' for the public but....well there is the stress factor to consider. They looked fine, they were supervised, but I thought the water too shallow. I was concerned. Perhaps they all go across to a deep tank every night. These touch tanks were also the only ones without a signboard. I thought here it was probably more important here than anywhere else.
Staying on the concern of size I believe that the pool containing the Salt water crocodiles was far too crowded. It was impressive to look at and very clean but had about twenty more animals in it than it should have. The Arapaima too were in the wrong tank. I would be the first to agree that it looked impressive. It looked great...but it was wrong. It was just a glass tube, a specimen jar, a goldfish bowl for a giant fish, or rather giant fishes. Some of these did not look too happy so I thought there may be some bullying going on. If there was there was no way to get away It may only be physcological bullying but none the less stressful for that.
The main tank was busy and impressive. The moving floor in the glass tunnel seemed slower than many I have been in, but I thought it was actually the right pace. There was no substrate? Why is this? I have noticed a movement away from this in large tanks of late. Is there some problem I am not aware of? The big tank measured 24 x 38 metres and varied in depth from 4.5 to 6 metres and contained 5 million litres. Some nice fish in there.
The majority of the sharks were kept in a nearby large circular tank with a painted back. This too was impressive. It was busy and very watchable.
My two favourites were the Dugong and Reef tank 11. This tank was a veritable garden of colours. It was active and attractive. It held several spectacular Indian Threadfish (Alectis indicus) which I don't recollect having seen before. If I have they were not memorable specimens.
The Dugong was a single young animal which we saw being bottle fed (with commentary) before being allowed to graze. The graphics and information about the species were good but I would have liked to have known more about the history of this particular animal. I believe Dugong have been held here before. Where are they now? Actually the Indonesians have a
good record with this species. One specimen lived in Surabaya zoo for thirty years!
Next door to Seaworld was a Dolphinarium featuring Dolphin, Sealion and variety animal shows as well as marine and freshwater aquariums and an Arapaima pool. I was going to check it out but there was such a multitude milling about I felt claustrophobic so I made my way back to Jakarta. Maybe next time.
What the papers say:
'The Jakarta Post' - June 18th 2006
Includes an article rightly attacking censorship of the subtitles of the Da Vinci Code. As the writer points out it is discrimination as it allows only English speakers to fully understand the movie.
I met a girl when I came out of the internet cafe. The conversation went something like this:
"Hello mister, where do you come from?" I answered with my usual. Then she asked. "What is your name?" "Peter" I replied, "What's yours". "My name is Sinner" she said, "I used to be called Easy but Sinner is better" The thing is she was serious and there really is no follow on conversation from that without getting really personal. She was right about both though ;-)
Discovering late in the day it was Father's Day treated myself and Sinner to a rack of ribs and a few Bintang beers in Tony Roma's.
If you have enjoyed reading this article you should move onto the next, entitled ‘Taman Safari Indonesia‘ as soon as it is published. Or you could move back to Ragunan Zoo if you missed it. Please also check out my blog Zoo News Digest.
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