Tuesday,21 May, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1126, 13 - 19 December 2012
Tuesday,21 May, 2019
Issue 1126, 13 - 19 December 2012

Ahram Weekly

Nemo’s namesake

Through the looking glass, Nader Habib dives into the depths of the sea

Al-Ahram Weekly

The natural treasures of the Red Sea with schools of fish, coral reefs and marine life are a God-made artwork that no man can ever recreate. People from all over the world come here to dive the depths of the sea to watch these wondrous creations that coexist in perfect balance and harmony. To view these remarkable sights one could go snorkelling near the shore or go deeper in the water with scuba diving gear that requires long training hours by experts to fully enjoy the wonders under the sea.

There is an even much easier way without going underwater — visit an aquarium. There, one can enjoy the sea creatures and marine life that captured our imagination since we were children and teenagers watching the Jaws movies, Shark Tale, Finding Nemo, and even Titanic where we discovered how modern technology helps us explore the depths of the sea.

While any aquarium couldn’t hold more than a fraction of what can be enjoyed in an underwater habitat, it is still a wonder to visit and view these fantastic sea creatures.

In El-Gouna, Hurghada governorate, at Kafr El-Gouna is the aquarium that houses a large number of fish and marine life that is found in the Red Sea. The design of the building is along the style of Hassan Fathi, with a dome and colours from the natural surroundings in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere. The gate to the aquarium is traditional Arabic style made of wood and iron like the gates of ancient Arab palaces. It is an attractive building that grabs your attention especially at night when the gate is open and you can see a massive square glass aquarium where the fish can be viewed from all four sides. The white lights also beautifully accentuate the natural colours of the countless fish species.

Since I was on a short visit, I decided to grab the opportunity and walk through the aquarium and enjoy the displays, especially since I didn’t have time to view them in their natural habitat.

Inside, it was like a cave with many aquariums filled with different marine life; one room after the next, like a maze — albeit clearly marked for visitors. Gazing at one glass showcase after the next, taking a closer look at each to discover its content. There were crabs, small turtles, starfish, urchins, and the most entertaining puffer fish. The puffer was the centre of a quick demonstration that one of the aquarium staff put on: puffer swam closer as he put his hand in to feed it smaller fish and suddenly grabbed it, and it immediately puffed itself out into a ball as a defence reflex.

There were also sea snakes that swam around each other like ballet dancers with grace and harmony. The crocodiles, which measure up to one metre, long seemed exhausted from the endless stream of visitors during the day. One staff member told me that visitors like to “play” with them and come too close, which triggers the reptiles to snap at them in defence. Thus, the game has made the crocodiles very testy about anyone coming close to them.

The turtle was much more laid back and somber, earning our respect amid this bright display of colour and energy. After a staff member gave it some food, it slowly took a two metre walk to a dark hiding spot under one of the aquariums in the room.

The tour took about 30 minutes, but the vibrant colours and energy of the fish made me want to stay longer. We had to leave, however, since it was time to head to the airport to catch the flight back to Cairo. Just then, a child walked in asking a staff member: “Where can I find Nemo the fish?”

We smiled and said goodbye to our fish friends dancing in their large aquariums and went home with very happy memories.

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