Weird Creatures Give Kids The Summer Shivers At Kobe Sea Park

Weird creatures give kids the summer shivers at Kobe sea parkSome youngsters appeared frightened at the sight of the exotic creatures. Others were in high spirits and shouting things like, “An extraterrestrial!”
It was just another thrilling day for the kids at the municipal Suma Aqualife Park in this city in western Japan.

Here exotic creatures wiggle and float in dark chambers at a special exhibition themed on the deep sea.

The jaws dropped of children on summer holidays as they peered with eyes wide open into fish tanks and specimen bottles.

The show is titled “Challenging the mystery of the deep sea--Sumasui (Suma Aqualife Park) deep-sea research institute” and involves fish tanks, specimens and models on display in chambers that are as dimly lit as the depths of the ocean.

Visitors are given a glow stick covered with red cellophane at the entrance before heading into the dark toward the fish tanks. About 30 species of creatures, including the deep-sea isopod and the Japanese spider crab, squirm away in fish tanks illuminated with red light. Deep-sea creatures find light stressful, but they are seldom startled by red light, which normally never reaches into the deep, aquarium officials said.

Also on display are bottled specimens of about 100 species of deep-sea creatures, including a goggle-eyed fish, a translucent fish and a snow-white lobster. The exhibition also includes a model of a so-called “black smoker,” or a deep-sea hydrothermal vent, and a section that allows visitors to experience hands-on just how cold deep-sea water is.

The entrance to the aquarium is decorated with a 17-meter-long model of a giant squid to set the mood for visitors.

Kanae Fujii, 31, of Akashi, Hyogo Prefecture, visited the venue with her infant son, Yota, in her arms.

“It looks very frightening,” she said of a deep-sea fish with tiny, degenerated eyes. “But it also appears mysterious.”

The special exhibition is the aquarium’s first to be themed on the deep sea. Fumio Iwamura, 43, an official in charge of the exhibits, said it took the organizers four years to plan and prepare for the event, because deep-sea creatures cannot be easily acquired.

“The deep ocean represents the Earth’s last frontier,” Iwamura said. “It could be a perfect subject of ‘independent research’ homework for the summer holidays.”

The exhibition, which runs through Oct. 10, consists of a first session (through Aug. 31) where 3-D imagery of deep-sea creatures is shown, and a second session (from Sept. 3) that allows visitors to touch creatures.

Admission is 300 yen ($2.95) for the first session and free for the second session (200 yen for those who want to touch deep-sea creatures). Visitors have to pay a separate fee to enter the aquarium.