Weekly Photo Challenge: Delicate

The aquarium at Okinawa, Japan, to say the least, is very interesting. While we were there, we have the opportunity of seeing not only something big but also something small and even something delicate.DSC_0206

The aquarium is huge with a clever construction so that visitors can have an unobstructed column free view of the aquarium and the fishes inside. We were awed with the close up views of the many sharks, sting rays and other fishes in the aquarium.DSC_0213

In the other parts of the aquarium, some other fishes are small, like the bright-colored coral fishes which dart around playfully around the corals and move in tandem with the currents (top picture).DSC_0204

The lion fish (picture above) there have also captured our undivided attention. They are well-known for their ornate beauty, venomous spines and unique tentacles. The spines and tentacles look delicate, fragile and could be broken up by any strong currents or sudden movements.DSC_0205

We spent a long time looking at the corals.  The coral reefs are so delicate because they are made from living creatures. The reefs are made up of  coral polyps which  are a delicate, limestone-secreting animal. The deposits are made in hundred or thousands of years protecting the softer parts.  However, coral reefs can live only in a delicate, balanced marine environment. They require lots of light and oxygen. They also need clear water, low nutrients, a steady temperature, and stable salinity.DSC_0248

They are a vital part of marine ecosystems, but they can be damaged by everything from storms, pollutants, ship anchors and careless divers to massive natural disasters. They are therefore so delicate, but having said that, this also applies to almost everything with life as life itself is delicate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Okinawa (I)

One reason for visiting Okinawa was to see the Churanmi Aquarium which is the second largest aquarium in the world. It was an amazing experience to view gigantic fishes from a  huge window with unheard dimensions of 8.2 m in height and 22.5 m in width.

The design intention was that visitors will be  unaware of the presence of the window. Everything opaque were removed from their sight except fishes and water, so that visitors feel that they are totally immersed in the sea. This was made possible by joining together super large acrylic panels (measuring 8.5 m (H) x 3.5 m (W) x 4 cm (D)) without using any reinforcing materials.

The acrylic panels were glued together. The panels not only have to resist very high hydraulic pressures but also have to accommodate large variation in dimensions as a result of temperature changes and water absorption; this was altogether quite an engineering challenge.

Also, the aquarium has adopted an open system which intakes  sea water from the ocean, circulates in the tank and discharges back to ocean once again.

The aquarium is divided into three sections according to the depth. In the shallower part, we  can see coral reefs and coral fishes.

There are as many as  800 different coral colonies representing 70 different species of coral. Fishes swimming jovially in and out of the coral reefs help in controlling seaweed and zoanthids which inhibit the growth of coral.

The lionfish looked exceptionally beauty in the aquarium. They are well known for their ornate beauty, venomous spines and unique tentacles.

With that we descended into the deepest and mysterious part of the aquarium.

In the deepest part of the aquarium, you can see creatures like a transparent type of shrimp which only lives at very big depths. There are lots of other small creatures living at deep seas, some feeding on bacteria which in turn feeds on deep sea nutrients in the seabed.

There was so so much to see even when we were back on the surface. The dolphins show in the Okicha Theatre nearby gave us some hearty laughs when the clever dolphins come up every time from the water and making splashes.

The trip to Okinawa was unforgettable and I must say, the aquarium is  the best part. We were fortunate to have seen three big whale sharks (with babies) coming together and took their photos. It was indeed  an eye- opening experience which can rarely be seen in other places!