SHARJAH // The area around Sharjah Aquarium became a virtual ocean on Thursday, with life-size models of sharks and seahorses and water acrobatic shows kicking off the venue’s carnival.
Views of the aquarium’s usual inhabitants were also a top draw.
Standing a metre away from a blackfin shark was five-year-old Egyptian Rana Ahmed.
“The sharks here are not scary, they are small and cute – not like the ones we see on TV, those are scary,” said Rana, as she watched a Sharjah Aquarium staff member feeding the shark.
Later in the evening, she watched the acrobatic show, which involved a female acrobat performing inside a sphere that represented a bubble in the sea.
“She was like a beautiful mermaid,” Rana said.
Rana was accompanied to the carnival by her aunt, Hind Atef.
“The carnival area is filled with laughter and children running around,” she said.
“The little ones are inquiring about the types of fish inside the aquarium. Rana was infatuated with the seahorses and clownfish.”
Organisers hope to make the carnival a yearly event to help people gain a deeper understanding of endangered marine life.
Rashid Al Shamsi, curator of Sharjah Aquarium, wanted families and children to enjoy the performances and hoped they also learnt a lesson or two about sea creatures.
“The performances, shows and the aquarium have a wealth of information, appealing to all ages,” said Mr Al Shamsi.
“We set up stage performances and plays to educate the visitors and increase their knowledge about marine life, the endangered species and types of fish that are kept and bred in the aquarium.”
Fatima Naser and her two daughters decided to check out the aquarium at the start of the weekend, the 34-year-old Iraqi said.
Her daughter Ayesha was infatuated with the turtles.
“This is the first time I have seen turtles,” the 11-year-old said. “A staff member told me they can live for more than 100 years.”
Parents and children took part in workshops that involved drawing in the sand, as well as lessons about recycling and the types of fish living in the Arabian Gulf.
Competitions, face painting, interactive art workshops, light shows and learning stations were also on offer to visitors.
Items salvaged from the sea were also on display to teach visitors about pollution.
“Plastic, gloves, ropes, soda cans as well as chairs are thrown in the sea, which has a devastating effect on the sea life,” said Ismail Al Blushi, head of marine life at the aquarium.
“We hope that carnival visitors learn the importance of keeping the sea clean so that we don’t pollute and hurt the marine life.”
Mohammed and Aya Saraj, a brother and sister visiting from Palestine, had the chance to hold a starfish in their hands.
“It is the first time I am seeing and touching a starfish,” said Mohammed, 12. “It feels weird and beautiful at the same time.”
The carnival is free to enter and open to the public from 5.30pm to 11pm, and will continue until Saturday. Aquarium tickets are Dh15 for visitors under age 13, and Dh25 for those aged 13 and older.
Source: uae news