AQWA – Perth, Western Australia

A privately-owned aquarium in Hillary’s, Western Australia, AQWA or The Aquarium of Western Australia was Australia’s largest aquarium when it opened and still possesses Australia’s largest single aquarium and walk-through underwater tunnel. The aquarium was inaugurated on 13 April 1988 as Underwater World, Perth. The name was changed to AQWA after the change of owners and The Aquarium of Western Australia was born on 1 January 2001. When they initially opened, AQWA featured a walk-through aquarium, now known as the Shipwreck Coast, and the Touch Pool. As of the current day, Aquarium of Western Australia includes more than 40 exhibits and is the 10th largest aquarium in the world.

The aquarium specialises in marine animals that inhabit the 12,000-kilometre long coastline of Western Australia. In total AQWA holds over 4 million litres of water and is home to approximately 400 species of marine life, including more than 3500 fish.

AQWA is themed as an underwater journey along W.A.’s coastline and is broken up into 5 distinct areas. Each area represents the unique marine life and environments of different regions along W.A.’s coast. These include: The Great Southern, the Shipwreck Coast, the Perth Coast, the Far North and Marmion Marine Park.

The main Shipwreck Coast aquarium is 40 metres (130 ft) long and 20 metres (66 ft) wide and holds around 3,000,000 litres (793,000 US gal) of seawater. It incorporates a 98-metre (322 ft) underwater acrylic tunnel, the largest in Australia. The popular attractions in this exhibit include 3-4 metres grey nurse sharks, 4 metre smooth stingrays, large loggerhead turtles and over 70 other species of rays, octopuses, sharks and fish.

The venue’s two premiere feature exhibits include:

  1. The Danger Zone: features a line-up of West Australia’s most dangerous marine life including stonefish, sea snake, blue ringed octopus, lion fish, box fish,cone shells and more

  2. The Coral Reef: AQWA’s Coral Reef is one of the largest living coral reef exhibits in the world, featuring stunning living corals and reef fish from Rottnest Island.

Other featured animals to keep an eye out for include, leafy seadragons, moon jellyfish, clown fish, juvenile saltwater crocodiles, starfish, octopuses, cuttlefish, rock lobsters, scorpionfish, eagle stingrays, sandbar whaler sharks, black tip sharks, Port Jackson sharks, rescued turtles and many more.

There are various tours that you can be a part off. Snorkelers and qualified SCUBA divers can get even closer to the fish, sharks, rays and turtles by joining the aquarium’s dive master in the Dive or Snorkel with a variety of Shark programs available. Registration is possible daily in the main Shipwreck Coast aquarium.

Seasonally, AQWA’s another feature, is the Reefwalker program, where capable swimmers over the age of 12 are allowed to enter the coral reef and discover scuba diving. No pre-requisites required, and using a custom-made hookah scuba unit, participants are led by an experienced AQWA dive instructor, as they walk underwater through the living reef which features hundreds of corals and fish. It runs Friday–Sunday between October and April.

All of these points make the Aquarium of Western Australia(AQWA) a top tourist destination in and around Perth.