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August 04, 2009

Spring’s in sight, but Aquarium winter special’s still on

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Photo courtesy Marti McFly

There is no denying it – the shift has happened. Nature is getting ready for the big bang of spring. I’ve heard from a reliable source that the magnificent flowers on the west coast and in Namaqualand are already rearing their orange, white, pink, purple and yellow heads.

The winter rains have started to turn the burned vegetation against Table Mountain into a green patchwork quilt.

And as with all things, the Aquarium is always changing too. Whether it is small changes to our exhibits, collecting interesting specimens, or moving animals to other facilities, we are as busy as ever.

We recently sent two sharks flying – yes really flying, on a Mango flight to Johannesburg. The two juvenile ragged-tooth sharks were collected by Aquarium staff in 2006. After outgrowing their exhibit they were given, on loan, to the National Zoological Gardens in Pretoria.

They will be staying there for two years, after which they will be returned to the Aquarium for release back into the sea.

The Aquarium’s penguins are also busy readying themselves for the coming season. Some of our penguins have started moulting. It is a bit of a process, with the weeks leading up to the big day being filled with eating, eating and more eating.

Prior to the moult, penguins eat as much as they possibly can to build up reserves, because during the moult they are unable to swim and therefore unable to hunt. Then one day you notice that their flippers have gone all puffy and swollen and your heart skips a beat. The day is near…

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Photo courtesy Marti McFly

Just as suddenly they start to look like they have been standing over an air vent, Marilyn Monroe style, and as if their feathers have been blown and tweezed to a magnificent fluff. Their small onyx eyes are hidden behind a fringe of black and white feathers and with every shake of their bodies, feathers go flying.

A week to 10 days later it is all over. Shed feathers cling to wet rocks and float in clumps in the water like shipwrecked sailors hanging on for dear life. But it is over. Just like that.

After the moult, the penguins look new. Like a present, just unwrapped. Clean and white with their unique black spots standing out like domino dots against their pure white bellies. Clean and proud of their new tuxedos, ready for another year!

But alas, the weather has a will of its own. It is on those days when the rain still pools in puddles on the patio, or the children start to complain about the television reruns, that the Aquarium offers sanctuary for weary parents.

We are still offering our special entrance fee until the end of October. Two adults and two children can make use of this amazing offer and only pay R180 for entrance into the Aquarium. That is a saving of R70. Entrance tickets are valid for the whole day.

With the Afrisam Children’s Play Centre revamp complete, taking the children to the beach on a rainy day is no longer an excursion of madness. Just come and visit and let the little ones enjoy themselves while building sandcastles in the sandpit, doing arts and crafts, or watching puppet shows. All indoors, for the enjoyment of young and old.

Open 365 days a year, from 09h30 until 18h00, the Aquarium remains a place of wonder and amazement, no matter what the season.

Every day there is something exciting to discover and every day someone takes the step towards that discovery when they walk through the entrance turnstiles. Is that person going to be you? Just wondering…

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