SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast (formerly Underwater World) is turning 30! For three decades, it’s been a favourite with local families and those making a day trip from Brisbane.
The celebrations will culminate on Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th August with a huge weekend party with The Wharf Mooloolaba that will include plenty of fishy family fun!
SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast is an iconic of part of the Sunshine Coast’s history and the source of many weird and wonderful stories. Here are 30 fun facts to kick off the birthday SEA-lebrations:
1. Give a ‘big wave’ to the oldest resident, ‘Tsunami,’ the brown Coachwhip Ray. He’s been at SEA LIFE since Underwater World opened in 1989!
2. In 1991, ‘Seal Stadium’ opened with Australian Sea Lions Liette and Portia, who were two of the first seals that guests could meet through a Seal Encounter or Seal Swim.
3. 1992 saw the commencement of the legendary ‘Sleep Under the Sea’ adventures! Over the years thousands of school kids have explored the aquarium after dark.
4. In 1995, Jackie Chan filmed ‘Police Story 4: First Strike,’ at the aquarium, but luckily the release of the killer shark was only special effects! In August 2019, SEA LIFE will welcome Jackie back to the Sunshine Coast – in wax form! Madame Tussauds Sydney are lending their incredible wax figure of Jackie Chan to join in the 30th birthday celebrations.
5. In 1997 SEA LIFE welcomed ‘Teiko,’ the first endangered Sea Lion born at Underwater World as part of the endangered Australian Sea Lion breeding program.
6. 1997 was also the year SEA LIFE became the first aquarium in the world to successfully breed Grey Nurse Sharks. This is an extremely rare occurrence and the aquarium hopes to recommence the Grey Nurse Shark breeding program in 2019.
7. Inkspot the Sandbar Whaler Shark was born in 2002 to parents Psycho and Lucky, who had both been at Underwater World since the aquarium opened.
8. Local fisherman brought two injured baby Bowmouth Guitarfish to our door in 2003, which SEA LIFE nursed back to health.
9. The epic ‘Monsters of the Deep’ exhibit opened in 2006 featuring a giant squid, preserved in ice, with an eye as big as a human head!
10. In 2007, two Brown Banded Bamboo Sharks were tagged and released out to sea after being successfully hatched and raised by two Brisbane High Schools as part of the ‘Adopt A Shark’ education program.
11. 2008 was the year SEA LIFE auditioned 180 kids for a chance to be the voice of a seal on ‘Seal Island.’ The aquarium chose five Sunshine Coast kids to record eight entertaining seal shows.
12. A group of Olympic swimmers including Stephanie Rice went for a swim with the seals in 2009, where they also learnt about on seal handling, training, feeding and care.
13. The Natural History Museum in London loaned the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition to SEA LIFE in 2009 to showcase onsite.
14. In 2012, the Ocean Tunnel opened, allowing visitors to stroll along the ocean floor. The 80 metre-long Ocean Tunnel has three distinctive zones and took 10 months to create.
15. 2013 saw Underwater World relaunch as SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast! This came after the completion of a four month $2.5 million refurbishment in 2013 and a $4m refurbishment 2012.
16. With the new name came the brand new ‘Jellyfish Kingdom’. In 2013, it was Australia’s largest jellyfish exhibit and featured five different species.
17. In 2013, the aquarium initiated the SEA LIFE Trust charity, to support local and international projects that help promote sustainability and conservation for marine animals and habitats.
18. The regular beach clean-ups began in 2014; removing rubbish from our beautiful Sunshine Coast beaches. In January 2015, 300 volunteers removed over 265 kilograms of debris in less than one hour for the annual Clean Up for Hatchlings event.
19. The SEA LIFE Trust charity has been involved in lots of exciting conservation projects, such as the ‘Loggerhead Turtle Hatchling Study,’ using satellite trackers to inform conservation and management strategies for turtles.
20. In 2014, SEA LIFE launched Merlin’s Magic Wand children’s charity, gifting 5,000 passes each year to seriously ill, disadvantaged and disabled local kids and working with local organisations such as Sunshine Coast University Hospital and Sunny Kids Refuge.
21. In 2015, things went digital, with the launch of an interactive Octonauts zone. Kids went crazy for the 3D animations, led by swashbuckling ‘Captain Barnacles.’
22. The ‘Ocean Youth Program’ launched in 2017, with monthly workshops to encourage future marine biologists. The program gives local high school students with a keen interest in the ocean and marine life the opportunity to take part in animal keeper workshops, guest experience sessions, field trips and nature based experiences.
23. Local teens, Jye and Maggie, became the ‘National Sea Turtle Champions’ of 2017 before going onto the be named ‘International Sea Turtle Champions in 2018 after helping SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast release a rehabilitated hawksbill turtle called Marcus back into the wild.
24. Jawsome Sharks are back, with the introduction of three new Grey Nurse Sharks – Pallas, Patches and Huey – after SEA LIFE Manly Aquarium closed its doors in 2018.
25. Here’s a turtle-y awesome fact – SEA LIFE has rehabilitated over 1,000 turtles in its 30 years. Col the Green Sea Turtle was the 1,000th turtle rescued and rehabilitated and he was released back into the ocean in May 2018.
26. With the release of Ruby in June 2019, SEAL LIFE has now released 1,075 turtles in the past 30 years!
27. Over 30 years, the aquarium has fed the animals approximately 750 tonnes of food.
28. The seals alone have eaten 408.8 tonnes of fish in the 28 years since they arrived.
29. In 2019, The Wharf in Mooloolaba relaunched after a $10 million revamp providing SEA LIFE with several new neighbouring cafes, bars, restaurants and retail stores.
30. SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast celebrates 30 incredible years in August 2019 with Family Fun Days, competitions and an exciting new exhibit, opening at the end of the year!
SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast is and The Wharf Mooloolaba are looking forward to locals and visitors coming together to enjoy the 30th birthday over the weekend of Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th August.
In addition to $30 entry for adults and $21 entry for children to SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast, there will be free family activities including face painting, a reptile display, a huge jumping castle and super slide.
There will also be opportunities to try water activities in the river with Sunreef Mooloolaba, free river cruises with Coastal Cruises Mooloolaba and sailing with the Mooloolaba Yacht Club.
The fun doesn’t stop there! There will be live music, roving entertainers and a fireworks display on Saturday evening. For further information about the 30th birthday activities visit www.sealifesunshinecoast.com.au.