Sharks, stingrays and sea horses at Palma Aquarium
Palma Aquarium was set up in 2007 and is around a fifteen minute drive from the Place Espana in the centre of Palma. It is home to 55 aquariums which house more than 8000 specimens of over 700 species of creatures from many different habitats around the world. These encompass the Mediterranean, the Atlantic Ocean and the Amazon basin to name a few.
Fittingly, given its location upon arrival you start in the Mediterranean Sea. From there you gradually move through a range of different habitats and are treated to some fairly impressive sea life on the way. Huge groupers, black spined porcupine fish, pipe fish, many many more in all colours of the rainbow. We saw tanks full of seahorses with huge distended bellies. When questioned, the helpful assistant confirmed that “This is love” as she went on to explain how the males fill their stomachs with water as part of the courting ritual to attract a mate. We stroked starfish and sea urchins, read about the phenomenal speed of the bluefin tuna, were mesmerised by tanks full of jellyfish glowing in the ever changing coloured lights.
We saw giant moray eels and had long conversations about how quickly the piranhas could eat various bits of our bodies should we poke them in the water.
The shark tank was phenomenal – the deepest shark tank in Europe at 8.5m deep my only regret was that I hadn’t brought my PADI card with me as if I had, I would have been able to enter the tank to dive with the sharks. We spent ages sitting on the comfy cushions positioned in front of all the tanks, just watching the different species of shark as they glided around the tank. We even lay on our backs and watched them above us as they swam through the tunnel.
Outside we were able to watch the stingrays, perhaps one of the best bits of the day as the rays came up out of the water moving their fins like they were clapping.
Most of the tanks had touchscreen displays next to them, showing detailed information about the inhabitants. This was in many different languages and was a huge asset in helping us to understand more about the creatures inside.
There were giant magnifying glasses over some of the tanks enabling us to get a really close up view of some of the specimens. The cushions already mentioned were a simple but lovely touch that really encouraged us to linger at various points. There were often large groups of people prostrate just watching the tanks, really taking the time to observe and enjoy.
The whole aquarium is completely accessible to anyone in a wheelchair. There are wide walkways and plenty of room to manoeuvre as you move between jungle and tropics and Mediterranean gardens. We even found ourselves at one point on a wooden platform above ground level, a bit like a treehouse which the children loved.
At the end there is a reasonably priced restaurant selling a range of hot and cold food including many child friendly options. A large play area is also available with a pirate ship and a bouncy octopus – what else could a child need?!
The aquarium proved to be a fantastic day out. While not cheap, there are discounts for wheelchair users and there is so much to see that it proved to be great value for money and definitely worth a trip for little kids and the not so little!