Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium (Kuroshio Sea)

What’s up guys, this video highlights our
visit to the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in Okinawa, Japan. Before we jump in, I have
to mention that it was a fun drive just getting to it. The Aquarium is located in the northern
part of the Island and we traveled through the mountainous regions to get there. The
GPS in the rental car was only sort of helpful because although there was an english setting,
we couldn’t punch in an address because it only accepted Japanese input. Luckily,
Erica’s phone had international data and GPS so we got turn by turn directions that
way. The aquarium itself is part of a massive complex.
It’s is only one feature in a greater nature park with other sights such as botanical gardens
and beach areas. One could easily spend all whole day here taking everything in. It was
a bit rainy out so we ended up spending most of time inside the aquarium. I’ve been to a bunch of public aquariums,
and the okinawa aquarium certainly holds its own as one of the best. Obviously the sheer
size of it is impressive, but the quality of the individual displays is top notch. This
reef system for example is absolutely spectacular. The corals in this system are enormous and
practically growing on top of one another. You might also notice that there are coral
eating fish and inverts in here. I know I saw at least five parrot fish. Then I noticed
this cuttlefish come into view. It’s hard to gauge the size of it from the video alone,
but it is probably 15” long. Cuttlefish are top end predators and have voracious appetites.
Who knows how many other fish in this display this guy consumes on a daily basis. I find stuff like this interesting because
this is the effect scale has on a system. In a typical home-sized aquarium, you can’t
have corallivores and high end predators like this but in systems of this size the growth
of the reef outpaces predation to a large degree. I don’t know if the aquarium has
to constantly replenish the fish stocking levels, but as far as the coral is concerned,
it doesn’t seem to be dented by the presence of the corallivores. The Okinawa Aquarium like the Waikiki Aquarium
in Hawaii pumps in water directly from the ocean. Every time I see a setup like that,
the health of the fish and corals looks really amazing. I am really jealous of their ability
to essentially do continuous water changes with perfect water. The next display over is a large fish system
showcasing things like groupers and eels. It was interesting to note that the this tank
was separated from the neighboring reef system with just some mesh material. They all share
the same water. One thing I’ll mention about public aquariums
as they relate to home aquariums is that the ones that know what they are doing can shed
some light on the natural habitat the fish and corals come from. Not everyone can go
diving and see the habitat first hand, so a good public aquarium is the next best thing.
It was only recently that I learned that most plate corals don’t like being on a sandy
substrate. In the wild, they are almost exclusively found on big chunky rubble. Right now I think there is a big disconnect
between the hobbyist and the natural reef where hobbyists have no clue whatsoever what
conditions certain corals are found in. The more aware we become of the natural habitat
the better we can care for some of these animals, especially the ones that are notoriously challenging
to keep. The spiny lobsters in this cylinder display
were crazy. The largest one had to be three feet long not counting the antennae. Most aquariums have a jellyfish display these
days. It’s sort of par for the course. Until recently, there weren’t residential models
for home aquarists, but those never caught my eye much because I wasn’t a fan of their
small size. Lately though I’ve noticed some manufacturers are making much larger ones
and there is a chance in the future I might consider getting one of those. Also, I hope that more varieties of jellyfish
will be available in the future. I love these bioluminescent ones for example. I included this clip of garden eels because
they seem to be the unofficial mascot of okinawa. In gift shops half the stuffed animals are
of these fish. Before, I mentioned that there were several
displays outside of the main aquarium building. These include a dolphin show stadium and these
two areas, one dedicated to manatees, and the other to sea turtles. They are even breeding
them here. Honestly from top down the turtle enclosure
didn’t look like much, but viewed from under water, it looks really cool. And finally we come to the tank that the okinawa
aquarium is famous for. The signature display is called the kuroshio sea. It measures 115
ft long, 89 ft wide, and 33 ft deep. For those keeping score at home, that is just shy of
2 million gallons of water. The acrylic panel you see here is 74 ft by 27 ft and is 2 ft.
thick. There are actually 80 species of coral in
this tank but let’s be serious nobody notices them for obvious reasons. Ok, I’m going to stop talking and just let
you guys appreciate this spectacular tank. Thanks for watching.

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