Under the Sea: Exploring the Two Oceans Aquarium

After we finished up on Table Mountain, we gave into our caffeine addictions and fueled up on cappuccinos at the bustling restaurant before taking the cable lift back down to the city.

the waterfront in Cape Town
the waterfront in Cape Town

We took a kombi to the waterfront, went to the Two Oceans Aquarium, and thoroughly explored it for the rest of the afternoon. They had one room dedicated to penguins and you could sit and watch them swim, play, and nap.

A Rockhopper penguin chilling on a stone
A Rockhopper penguin chilling on a stone

We met a pair of cool marine biologists who had a set up with a microscope and little glass dishes with microscopic sea creatures. The first lady projected what the microscope zoomed in on onto a screen. In one dish, they showed us sea anemones slowly devouring plankton. They were happy to answer any of our questions and when they didn’t know, they brought out several huge marine biology textbooks, some focusing specifically on the ocean life around southern Africa, and would research alongside us.

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The jellyfish were captivating as I expected them to be, but I saw creatures I had never heard of before like shy sharks and heard unfamiliar terms like “mermaid’s purse” which is the casing that envelops the fertilized eggs of some sharks, skates, and chimaeras.

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shy sharks
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shark mermaid’s purses

Also, apparently an octopus can escape through any opening as long as its eye can fit through. And the sign next to the octopus tank said that employees would often put toys in for the octopus because they are highly intelligent and will get bored with no distractions. So basically what I gathered from that information is that they have to keep the octopus entertained or it’ll spend all its time plotting its escape. Evil genius octopi. Maybe this is a sign we shouldn’t contain them in tanks?

On the way out, we saw this giant spotted eel. She was absolutely gorgeous.

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I forgot how exciting and wonderful it is to go to the aquarium. It was fun, relaxing, and it gave me the chance to nerd out in a way I usually don’t get to as a student in the humanities!

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