The East London Aquarium, only a 20-minute (18.2km) drive from the Rose and Ale.
East London Aquarium opened in 1931, and this makes it the oldest Aquarium in Southern Africa. It is a small aquarium with various marine indoor and outdoor enclosures, showcasing a variety of sea life.
In the indoor tanks, there are some unusual fish to be seen. Especially gruesome is the Red Piranha, native to the amazon river in South America. Don’t miss the Lionfish, which is most impressive with elongated, feathery fins protruding from the body, it looks just like the mane of a lion.
Outside are the outdoor enclosures and pools, looking out over the amazing view of the East London Harbour. Here you will find the penguins, pelicans, turtles, seals, and sharks in the tidal pool. There is also an information centre.
Whales and dolphins can be seen swimming free, in their natural environment from the seafront aquarium’s ocean viewing deck.
The Southern Right whales migrate southwards down the coast of South Africa to their arctic feeding grounds and come close inshore at East London. With this in mind, the aquarium built an eleven-meter-high platform placed right above the surf, which provides an excellent viewpoint to watch these magnificent animals breaching in the bay. Around November another whale makes its appearance, the Humpback whale. With its famous long white pectoral fin, it is not a sight to be missed. Bottlenose Dolphins can frequently be seen surfing the waves, right beneath the deck, on their way up and down the coast in search of food.
As we have not visited the aquarium in a long time, it was delightful to see it well-maintained. The indoor fish tanks and the pools for the aquatic animals and birds have been kept in good condition. The animals were happy and well-fed, especial the seals.
HIGHLIGHTS of the morning:
We arrived at feeding time, so we witnessed the Lionfish in the indoor tanks having lunch. Lionfish have numerous small teeth on their jaws and the roof of the mouth that are adapted for grasping and holding prey, fascinating! Outside we enjoyed a snack that we bought along with us (there is no café at the Aquarium) while watching the tugboats escort large cargo ships from the harbour.
We got to feed the penguins and watch them slip in and out of the water. We were fortunate to see a mother penguin sitting on her eggs and protecting them. Interacting with the Seals was a lot of fun and the children thought it especially funny how the seals chase away the seagulls by standing up on their back fins and barking at what seems top of their voices. Walking up on a special deck you will see sharks below you, swimming slowly up and down in a tidal pool, a slightly nerve wrecking experience. The children found it quite exciting and funny that I was nervous and could not wait to get off the deck. The caretaker threw fish on the side of the tidal pool for us to see the sharks up close, as they came for their lunch. We also got to see the pelicans eating, which was an unusual experience as you could see their huge beaks and even bigger gullets, where they can store many fish. Did you know that a pelican can fit three times more fish in its mouth than in its stomach?
After a fun, exciting and informative morning we took a walk along the esplanade and enjoyed our lunch at the Wimpy café. There is also Guido’s Restaurant (pizza, pastas and steaks) across the road from the Aquarium. There are also several takeaway places should you feel like a light lunch while watching the ocean.