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Published August 9th 2017
Discover a rich underwater sea world
Small, but intimate. Observing the tropical reef fish up close
We have visited aquariums in major cities in Australia and overseas, yet there is something special about visiting a marine research centre as opposed to a large commercial aquarium.
The Solitary Islands Aquarium, located at the Southern Cross University's National Marine Science Centre features a snapshot of the unique and rich diversity of sea life which lives within the 75km long stretch of Coffs coast and encompasses the five main Solitary Islands.
The region is specie- rich due to the intersection between the tropical warm waters of the East Australian Current or EAC, (as it is fondly referred to by Crush in Finding Nemo), and a second current bringing the nutrient rich colder waters from the South.
So, as you walk from one tank to another, you move from colourful reef fish in one instance, to larger predatory fish from more temperate waters in the other. You'll find the centre an intimate and interesting place where you will learn lots of stuff. You will leave with your head full of new facts and an appreciation for life under the sea for many of these unique sea creatures who inhabit our world.
The marine centre provides an important insight - one which can be often missed with large scale commercial acquariums - that is, the environmental human impact and the important role we all play in conservation efforts. The centre acts to facilitate the important connection between research, academia and the public.
My two boys and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit at the Solitary Island Marine Centre. It's well located, not far from the centre of town and is nestled among the Charlesworth Bay picnic area and beach.
Staff are friendly and available for questions from inquiring minds. Entry fees are affordable, and there are some basic snacks such as crisps and chocolates available.
We enjoyed the talks and the feeding sessions run on the hour. We happily hung about for several hours drifting between tanks, playing a computer fisheries game, watching an underwater documentary and then settling in for several different animated talks by the two marine scientists. We learned about anemone living fish, got up close to rock pool sea creatures, witnessed a feeding frenzy in the shark/ray tank and were impressed by the colourful reef fish.
My eldest son left the aquarium that day with a sticker in one hand, a stamp on the other and well inspired, exclaiming that he might be a marine scientist as well as a paleontologist.
A play on the beach and a BBQ dinner in the adjacent park topped a great day out.
The centre also runs periodic evening talks and sessions
If you are interested in becoming involved as a volunteer with the work of the marine research centre, contact the team on 02 6648 3918 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.