There are various ways to get to Sentosa Underwater World depending on how you arrive on the island. If you are arriving by Sentosa Cable Car at Imbiah Lookout, you can take either the Blue Line or Green Line buses. If you arrive from HarbourFront Centre bus interchange by Sentosa orange-colored buses, you will disembark at Visitor Arrival Centre near the Sentosa Gateway Bridge from which you may take either the Blue Line or Siloso Beach Line buses. For arrival from Sentosa's Ferry Terminal, take the Green Line buses.
This oceanarium hosts some 2,500 marine animals from 250 different species. It is probably one of Asia's oldest establishment for marine display. The entrance fee of SGD19.50 includes the admission to Dolphin Lagoon (which I will cover in a separate travel article). Sentosa Underwater World opens daily from 0900-2100 hrs with last admission at 2030 hrs.
Right outside the entrance is a small open-air enclosure where you can see sea turtles. Around noon time, don't forget to check out the turtle-feeding session here. I did find the small enclosure for these turtles was too cramped for them. Nonetheless, the establishment's conservation effort for this endangered marine animals are commendable - there are Sea Turtle Breeding Programme and Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation efforts in place to lend a supporting hand in protecting these fragile animals.
One of the first few things you will see after entering the oceanarium. It is actually a 6-metre tall cylindrical water tank where common yet colorful tropical marine fishes swimming effortlessly up and down. Among the fishes here are butterflyfish and bannerfish.
It is a number of tropical reef displays. As an avid diver and snorkeler in the many islands in Malaysia, I felt that nothing beats the real thing. Nonetheless, this is more of an educational display for children and adults who have never set foot underwater before. A good selection of soft and hard corals among typical marine fishes like damselfish, sergeant major, and angelfish can be viewed here.
Just as the name would have suggested, Living Fossils displays a variety of marine species that have survived millions of years of evolution. The elusive chambered nautilus is actually a mollusk that belongs to the same family as squid, cuttlefish and octopus but has evolved to thrive in snail-like shells. Then there are a number of arapaima fish on display. This prehistoric fish actually thrives in freshwater and grow up to a whopping 3-metre in length. Other displays in Living Fossils include small freshwater fishes, orange-spotted black stingray and a black arowana-like species that comes from Australia.
These unique animals are on display in a separate cubicle on its own. The enclosure's temperature is set to near-zero because this thumbnail-size organism only thrives on cold arctic water. While it resembles a smaller version of jellyfish, sea angel is actually a type of delicate sea snail. The most unique attribute is that it actually emits a glowing light from its body.
WORLD OF CRABS:
Just as you thought there is only one type of crab out there in this world ie: chili crab (I'm joking!), this display is somewhat a refresher course to remind you that there are probably hundreds of crab species, most of them are not edible anyway. Meet the belligerent rainbow crabs which are put in pairs and constantly wrestling each other. Rather unique! Then there are coconut crabs, vinegar crabs, the unique box crabs, decorator crabs and the giant Japanese spider crab which looks more like an alien from the movie War of the World. I also saw a rare seashell-like crab which I could not recall the name. After all, I needed to rely on the description and could not memorize everything. Not everyone is good at crab-naming. Are you?
My first impression was why on earth did they planted seaweeds on this poor seahorse? Indeed, this animal does look like a seahorse but with leaves all around it! There are about 3-4 of them on display. Their movement is somewhat odd and restricted because of its shape. But unique nonetheless. One unimportant trivia is that the male sea dragon will look after the eggs, not the female. But then some of us do have to care of the kids while the wifey is at work, right? Did I mention it was a trivial trivia?
The first item on display on the "tunnel level" ie: two floors down from the entrance. It is basically almost the same display as the 1st floor's Reef Flat. I wonder if they had a surplus of corals and fishes from the ocean that they decided to do two almost identical display. But then, in Living Reef, the star attraction is a colony of anemone fish (or lately being nicknamed Nemo).
Rather an interesting display. The jellyfishes are actually white in color but with clever use of lighting, they looked as if they emit a subtle orange glow from their body. Apparently there are three types of jellyfish on display - Blue Jelly, Sea Nettle and Lion's Mane - although they look practically similar.
Some people could easily skip the earlier floors and head directly to this tunnel. Reason being the tunnel displays a delightful selection of the ocean's largest species. If you are not into diving (Sipadan and Bali came to mind), there are only few places in the world where you can see these large animals. My major beef though that the self-moving deck. It aims to magnify the experience of "walking" underwater but halting to take photographs can be a tricky affair.
The gigantic animals (I won't mention much about the smaller fish like the golden trevally which seemed more like decoration than anything else) on display are eagle rays, leopard shark, hump head wrasse, nurse shark, giant grouper, white-tip reef shark, moray eel and the passionate dugong called Gracie.
Interesting and educational. But for the real thing, you may visit Islands of Malaysia nearby *smile*