Upon learning about the opening of an aquarium center here in Jeddah, we knew we have to visit at some point. So armed with our newly-bought DSLR cameras, we went to Fakieh Aquarium on the first day of the Ramadan break.
This huge aquarium can be found near the exit doors of the aquarium center. Among the other aquariums at the complex, this is my favorite spot, but is also my least favorite to take photos of. My favorite spot because it is so huge but void of artificial decorations and is manned by a giant janitor fish (more of this later). My least favorite to take photos of because it is often full of shiny happy people who are either fascinated with the janitor fish, or are competing of its attention.
Due to Jeddah’s proximity to the Red Sea, about 7,000 species of sea creatures comprising of 200 marine species from the Red Sea are being taken care of in 155 tanks inside the facility.
Here are photos of some of the fishes, non-fishes and occasional human species that stood out the most among more than a thousand others.
If you’re familiar with the 3D animated movie Finding Nemo, you’ll be able to readily identify the clown fish, the blue tang and the moorish idol in the photos below. Can you identify which is Marlin, Dory and Gill?
By the way, do you know that an upcoming sequel to the 2003 Pixar film is on its way? Google Finding Dory.
Now let’s get nerdy!
That is a grouper surrounded by a school of fish though I’m not sure whether it’s by commensalism or mutualism. If you don’t know what those two words mean then by any chance you have forgotten your high school biology or was simply slacking around or not paying attention in class. Philippine’s lapu-lapu (the fish, not the Mactan hero), which is so much perfect for steaming, is a grouper.
That’s a yellow pupperfish on the left which I prefer to call a boxfish because of its box-like appearance but it is not to be confused with a porcupinefish as the latter has small spikes covering its body while the other is smooth-skinned. Though both fishes can inflate their bodies by sucking in water at the smallest provocation. Careful not to scare them for they can scare you twice as much in return.
According to Mr. Google, the one on the right is a three striped damselfish.
I still can’t shake off my smile whenever I’d remember how I got the name of this fish by Googling the words “small fish white scale black stripes.” Try if you’ll also readily find the right search results.
On the left are Achilles tangs, they belong to same fish family as the colorful blue tangs only they are less colorful. Sorry, Achilles tangs.
I really hoped it was a manta ray because I find the word more classy as compared to stingray but the marine museum’s Instagram page says it’s not. A stingray has poisonous barbed stingers while a manta ray does not.
Look! A shark.
Dolphins and Seals show at Fakieh Aquarium
Though a visit is not required and an additional fee of SR50 is required, one of the highlights at Fakieh Aquarium is the dolphin and seal show.
And here are photos of a seal (there were two of them), the six dolphins, the three trainers and the two lucky kids who had the luxury of having their short kayak ride while having two dolphins crossing above them immortalized in photos. I would give up my good looks to experience that. Okay, not really.
We all thought those two kids were randomly picked up from the crowd (or were planted by someone in the know) but according to a source, the kayak ride is available for SR100 and comes with a free photo.
And that is exhausted Miku Hatsune still channeling her inner tour guide.
Speaking of tour guides, you may avail of the Fakieh Aquarium educational guided tours at the ticket booths at the entrance. Not sure though whether the price is SR50 or SR100 per person.
Sometimes, two or more tasks really can’t be done efficiently at the same time. Just like watching multicolored fishes in a series of fish tanks and taking photos of them simultaneously. Should you wish to just enjoy viewing the marine species and still want a photo of you as a memento, there are crews available at the tunnel tank area for that purpose. Unfortunately, I could not post photos of them. Saudi Arabia is strict about other people’s privacy (both online and offline) and posting photos of others’ without permission is a huge violation of this rule. So there, no photos.
Look! A janitor fish.
Check out Fakieh Aquarium’s official website for special operation hours during Ramadan, Hajj and other holidays.
Update June 17, 2016: The animated film Finding Dory is now being played in your favorite movie theaters. Wait, no movie houses in Jeddah? Go visit Fakieh Aquarium in Jeddah. Maybe you’ll find Dory’s family in this Jeddah aquarium facility, who knows right? Just kidding.
Update December 6, 2016: According to Lonely Planet, the complex now features an ice-skating rink and an arcade for children.
— Noel Cabacungan (@noelcabacungan) June 23, 2017
Last updated: December 6, 2016