Okinawa, Japan Feb. 28 Wed 11:07AM
Japan's Best Aquarium
In the Okinawan dialect, "Chura" means beautiful, and in Japanese, "umi" means ocean, or sea. Perfectly blending Japanese and Okinawan culture, the aquarium was named the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium.
The Churaumi Aquarium has many claims to fame: it has a giantic tank called the Kushiro Sea Tank, one of the largest in the world, with a whale shark and the world's first successfully bred-in-captivity manta ray. The aqaurium also boasts the first instance of multiple whale sharks in capitivity. The tank itself measures over eight meters tall and over 22 meters wide. The tank is named Kushiro because of the warm Kushiro Current, which has a huge impact on the sea life of Okinawa.
The aquarium also features a recreation of the Sea of Okinawa through reproductions of Okinawan coral. The coral has been cultivated for over a decade, and the 300 square meter tank has no roof, allowing sunlight to flood in. Fish and other marine life that would naturally inhabit coral reefs swim there and play an important role in controling seaweed and other plants that inhibit the growth of corl.
Interestingly, the aquarium also uses an "open system" where sea water from the Sea of Okinawa enters the tanks and then is returned to the ocean, keeping the flow of water fresh and constant.
There is also a tank dedicated to deep-sea life, where mysterious organisms from 200 to 700 meters deep in the Sea of Okinawa have been bred in captivity like Ruby Snapper, Blacksail Snake Mackerel, and luminious shrimp.