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Underwater World in Pattaya Thailand
On the 1st May 2009 I made my third visit to Underwater World, Pattaya. I note from their current leaflet that they describe themselves as "unique aquarium in Southeast Asia". How I may ask are they unique? Unique means 'one only...completely different to all others.' They are certainly not unique. In defense of Underwater World I should say that they are not alone in claiming to be 'unique' and it may well be that the original blurb was written in Thai and whoever translated it into English came up with what they thought was the correct word. I did note several other incorrect uses of English during my visit.
The only thing different to all the other aquariums I have visited in South East Asia is that they now have a 'Gravity Tank'. In fact this was my main reason for visiting today. I have only seen one before and that was in Dalian in China. I describe the workings of this in my hub 'The Anti Gravity Atmospheric Pressure Fish Tank'. These truly are an amazing exhibit to behold and it surprises me that more aquariums do not have them.
Pattaya Underwater World is nothing special. It does nothing to set itself apart from the rest. The water is clean and the exhibits are neat and tidy. All the specimens look healthy and there is an abundance of signage. The signage is in both Thai and English which is a plus but for the most part it is dull in colour and boring. There are very few 'factoid' signs which jump out at you and shout 'Interesting!' or 'Amazing'. I am all for information on distribution and inclusion of scientific names but Joe Public needs 'Edutainment' to take things in. Shows and feeding sessions are all very well but they so often miss the point.
Underwater World in Pattaya is just like the majority of aquariums I visit in that it does zilch, nothing at all for conservation. If it did surely it would be shouting it from the roof tops. The only conservation signage I saw here was at the turtle tank. Sticking up a sign is absolutely pointless. What are they doing exactly. Four turtles in a blue painted pool does nothing for me, nothing at all.
On my first visit here they had a moving floorway through their tunnel. That has now been carpeted over. It is better like that I feel. On my first visit they had a goodly number of Lion Fish and Seahorses. On my second visit they had one of each. This visit there were several of each. My point is, are these replacements captive bred? I very much doubt it which gets back to the old question about aquariums and conservation.
It is 450 Thai Baht (£9.00) for adult to enter Pattaya Underwater World. This is not cheap and outside the pocket of the average Thai.
One if the more interesting tanks was the one containing large freshwater fish. The fish were, apparently, microchipped and a reader had been set up on the glass front. This was connected directly to a computer where you, in theory, were able to identify and learn more about the fish. Nice idea, clever idea...only it wasn't working.
I quite liked the sign ' 6 Crabs found in Thailand with names bestowed by the Royal Family'. Sadly most of this was in Thai. I would have like to learn more.
I felt sorry for the otters. Their exhibit was absolutely horrible. A glass fronted concrete box which contained a pool and a waterfall. It goes some way towards being the worst exhibit I have seen in any zoo. And why worst? Because this place should know better. Then they have the cheek to place a 'tip box' in front of the exhibit.
Well I will give you a tip Pattaya Underwater World. If you are going to exploit animals to make money then you must give back. If you take...give. Give the best of housing, the best of education and your best efforts at research and conservation. Right now all you are doing nothing but take.
The Otter exhibit is used to present a show several times a day. Nothing especially clever or educational about it. I am however pleased that the poor little animals are being taught to do something to break the mind numbing monotony that this awful exhibit bestows upon its occupants. Sorry but you cannot treat mammals in the same way as you do fish...and that is exactly what is being done here. One last point on the otters. I was concerned that the fur on them appeared abnormal.