A couple of weeks ago we went to visit the Irukandji shark and Ray Centre at Bobs farm as part of our weekend away at Port Stephens.
We were all excited to visit the Shark and Ray centre, although a little wary of what we were going to encounter. Stepping into the foyer we were greeted by a ” fishy smell” and a very helpful staff member, who happily explained to us that we had arrived on the last day of “World oceans week”, a week they had dedicated to raising funds and awareness of ocean conservation.
Entering through the gate I noticed how calm and quiet it was, in contrast to the amount of people who were in attendance. The loudest sound was of the water running through the pumps, while the people stood quietly in awe of the sharks and rays surrounding them. We changed into our wetsuits, waders (one size fits all!) and foot wear, packed our bag in the locker, and stood, ready for our “safety talk”. The kids and I listened carefully as the staff member explained where it was ok to touch the sharks and rays and how to walk in the water as not to step on them, after this we were ready to go see the sharks and rays.
Approaching the first pool, I must admit I was a little apprehensive, I have seen plenty of sharks and rays but never been in with them! We didn’t have much time to think about it though, standing at the steps was another staff member waiting for us, handing out feeding sticks and encouraging us to enter. Jay walk straight in with him, to a block that was positioned in the water to stand on, while Ivy froze at the top step wanting to take photos or feed them from the edge rather than getting wet. I settled Ivy on the edge and followed in after Jay, but by the time I got to him, he was ready to get out! He was crying, scared, anxious and wanted to be on the side with his sister. So after organising and settling everyone down (the joys of being a single mum!) I got in with the Sharks and Rays. It was awesome!!! I was amazed at how friendly they were, coming right up to me to have a feed and swimming so close they brushed my leg and I could give them a pat
This was the first of four pools that we entered, all with varying sizes of Sharks and Rays, and at each pool the passionate staff member shared information about Sharks and Rays, making you think about the misconceptions we have of these beautiful creatures, the roles they play in our oceans and how we can all help in their conservation.
Although the kids didn’t renter the pools after that first try, they listened intently to the information shared and continued to enjoy the experience from the side, feeding the Rays with the feeding sticks. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the kids both later told me that they had a great time and would love to return to visit again ……. when they get older!
Where: Irukandji shark and Ray Centre, 686 Marsh road Bobs Farm, NSW, Australia
How much: We paid $63 dollars for entry (1concession and 2 kids), it is normally an extra $15 each to go in, but because it was Oceans week and we pledged not to use plastic bags for a year, then this fee was wavered.
Need to know: it was a bit cold because of the weather but the waders kept me warm, be prepared to be there for at least 2 hours ( especially if you are getting in), the staff are very passionate and informative about their work, if you are looking for vouchers to save I think the entertainment books might have them, as well as sometimes Groupon etc.
Where we stayed: Fingal bay caravan park. There are a lot of places to stay in Port Stephens!