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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

My experience in swimming with stingrays and sharks in Manila Ocean Park

When I learned that Manila Ocean Park will open a new attraction last year, I started to place it on top of my bucket list that I should try swimming with the stingrays and sharks, at first I thought that I’ll go inside the cage and be dropped inside the giant aquarium filled with stingrays and sharks, but then I saw a blog post and the blogger narrated their story that there’s this 5 feet sea water pool filled with stingrays and sharks. I was also invited to try it before during the launch, but I didn’t make it because of my busy schedule, but when I got invited again, I didn’t hesitated and agreed to join the short swim with these marine creatures. I even bought my own snorkel in a mall just to make sure that I’ll enjoy this moment swimming with the deadly stingrays.

So what’s the catch?

You’ll get a close encounter with the stingrays and shark in Manila Ocean Park, but don’t worry, the poisonous sting of the stingray are already gone, this makes them very tame and fun to have a close encounter, there are 5 kinds of stingrays available in the sea water pool – they are the
- cowtail stingray
- mangrove whipray
- jenkin’s whipray
- leopard whipray
- and black-botched ribbontail ray

for the sharks, they placed the tamed kind of sharks and not the ferocious meat eaters, these are harmless sharks that dwells under the water.
- tawny nurse shark
- white spotted bamboo shark

so how much is the fee for the close encounter?
there are three kinds of close encounters

1. Dry Encounter (PHP 300)
- You’ll just stand outside the pool and you can touch and hold the stingray

2. Half body encounter (PHP 800)
- you dip into the pool and you can hold and touch the stingray and shark

3. Full body encounter and swim (PHP 1500)
- you can swim and dive under the pool and encounter both – sharks and stingray

for the other attraction, there’s also the Aquanaut (PHP 1500) that lets you dive inside the giant Oceanarium filled with lots of marine animals.

The PHP 1500 for the full body encounter comes with a free use of their locker room, rubber shoe for swimming, snorkeling gear and rash guard. And for every session, you’ll get a certificate award for completing the session.

This activity is not just about swimming with the animals, it’s a way how we can learn more about the marine creatures, there’s a diving guide and also tidbits of info that will be shared to you about the animals.

price and marine species labels

That’s me joined by the writers of

Here’s the sea water pool filled with stingrays and sharks. It looks shallow, but it’s a 5 feet pool with lots of animals.

The locker area – you can place your items inside, they will provide an electronic locker key for you.

Snapshot 4 (1-16-2014 1-13 PM)
The rubber shoe, you really need this because it can help you to walk in the pool. You have to slide you foot and not walk over, because you might step on a shark or stingray that lurks under, the rubber shoe will also help you not be injured when you accidentally step on a stingray, the back of the stingrays have sharp spikes that protects them from predators.

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The swim with sharks and stingrays pool is located at the grand stand area were they held their Sea lion show and also near the Liquid pool bar.

Okay, its time to swim with the sharks!!!

I also noticed that there are some fish inside the pool tank too!

My view before going to the pool tank
hahahahaa.I got scared already and got this phobia of getting near to an animal that I haven’t encountered before.

here’s a welcome greeting to a friendly stingray hahahah
I super chicken out!!! I almost quit…but when the tank staircase is clear..I started to kneel down and dive in

And then..there’s this stingray that bumps to my face! gahh!!! I started to panic and with horror hahahah
But then the guide told me to relax and not be afraid because they are harmless. They just want to play or mistake you for being their caretaker.

The welcome committee of stingrays.invited the biggest stingray!!! its bigger than our dining table at home! I’m pin pointing that black one.

I learned so many things about this activity.
Its advisable not to bring your own camera while inside the tank. Manila Ocean Park have their own photographer to take photo of you while diving with the marine animals. I brought my iPhone4s with water proof casing just to video document my experience here, but then I’m snorkeling while recording, there are times that I forgot that I dive too deep and forgot that my snorkel hose will close up, there are times that gasp for air.. If ever I will go back here, I will never bring my camera into the tank.

Preparing for a close encounter

Snapshot 2 (1-16-2014 1-12 PM)
The other side of the pool tank is just 3 feet.

Snapshot 3 (1-16-2014 1-13 PM)
The right way how to carry the stingray

Snapshot 7 (1-16-2014 1-15 PM)
That’s me under water… hahahahaha.
I’m recording myself while I dive.

Snapshot 5 (1-16-2014 1-14 PM)
Whoaaaa!!!! Stingray infront of me….I just float over it

Snapshot 6 (1-16-2014 1-14 PM)
More stingray under me….I snorkel around and just observe how these stingrays swim..its like they are flying under the water and they flap their wings so peacefully.

Snapshot 8 (1-16-2014 1-16 PM)
I started to panic when I saw the nurse shark under my foot… Its big and longer than me hahahahah.

Snapshot 9 (1-16-2014 1-18 PM)
here’s a view of the nurse shark, lurking around the bottom of the pool tank.
They just stay there to rest, they are bottom dwellers and nocturnal marine animals.

Snapshot 10 (1-16-2014 1-18 PM)
there’s our photographer guy

Snapshot 11 (1-16-2014 1-19 PM)
Bamboo shark

Snapshot 12 (1-16-2014 1-19 PM)
Me touching the king of stingray here at the pool tank

Snapshot 13 (1-16-2014 1-20 PM)
there she goes…imagine the size of it..bigger than your dining table hahaha.
Snapshot 1 (1-16-2014 1-11 PM)
And here’s my moment of my close encounter with a stingray..I super chicken out after this hahahaha.

I will have my revenge soon!!

see you soon marine creatures!!

Manila Ocean Park
Azrael Coladilla is the blogger and founder of Azrael's Merryland Blog. This blog started as a personal blog in 2003, and then converted the blog into a lifeblog about his interest and reporting about pop culture, lifestyle, entertainment, technology, food, travel, toys, outdoor adventure, internet and social media. Awarded as the 2009 Most Influential Blogger for Luzon, Philippines, awarded by the Philippine Blog Awards. He is the founder of several online communities - Manila Bloggers Network, Philippine Bloggers Network, Oh My Food! community, Cavite Bloggers, Travel and Blog Community, and Philippine ToyCon. Azrael's Merryland Blog is included in a list of top 50 Blogs in the Philippines , ranked 65th in Top 100 Blogs that Matter , 49 must read lifestyle blog in the Philippines. and rank 40th in 100 Top Philippine Blogs by Feedspot.
He loves to travel, explore, discover, eat new food, document and record his life, meet new people, do photography and collects Transformers toys.
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