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Sharks and Rays Encounter: yet another dream come true at the Manila Ocean Park

Sharks; you watch them in movies with razor sharp teeth, gigantic jaws and killer instincts. They are fast, scary and ruthless to their victims. Rays on the other hand are less frightening until the news about the death of Steve Irwin (the famous crocodile hunter), who believed to be struck by stingrays barb in the heart, went out and shocked the world. No wonder the very thought of these two freaking creatures strikes fear in most of us.

Now, who would dare to meet them face-to-fin, raise your hands!

I’m raising both hands including feet. Hell yeah I’m afraid, who isn’t anyway? But sharks and rays encounter is yet another dream for me. Who wouldn’t want a dream come true or should I say a life changing experience? After all, these two, are still God’s beloved creations.

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An outdoor view at the Sharks and rays encounter

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Me cuddling a Ray for the half body encounter

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Bloggers on their sexy swimwear together with Evir

The dream come true happened last Saturday at the Manila Ocean Park. Fellow bloggers and I were given the chance to try one of a kind attraction - considered a first in the Philippines and Southeast Asia known as the Sharks and Rays Encounter. We were able to swim, feel, cuddle and touch these two creepy creatures of the deep sea.

Sharks and Rays Encounter Programs you can choose from are as follows:

  1. Aquanaut – exciting underwater activity using a special diving helmet that lets you breath freely.
  2. Full body encounter- Swim full-body in the outdoor pool and get to touch and hold the stingrays and a chance to see the bull shark up-close, pose for pictures and learn about their habitat, feeding, breeding and behaviour.
  3. Half body encounter -Go waist deep into the water and have a rare interaction with sharks, rays and starfishes all in one place.
  4. Dry Encounter- No need to get wet or change clothes. The touch and feel contact heightens your appreciation to care for the ocean and its inhabitants.
  5. Sharks and Rays Intimate- A specialized CSR program focusing on sharks and rays encounter by persons with disabilities and special needs.

Before the encounter, a briefing is done to make sure people are aware of the dos and donts. A trained staff discussed to us which friendly sharks and rays species we will encounter, how to interact with them and some of the misconceptions about them. Somehow the discussion made the feeling of excitement overtook fears.

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According to the trainer this is how to gently grab a ray; shoulder level (lower down if needed), not too wide opening and no screaming. :)

After the briefing, an eat all you can buffet was served by the Liquid and Pool Lounge. You try it, their food was superb, I can’t resist eating more than my usual meal. Fish, fruits and pasta carbonara were my favorites. Yet another cheat day for me.

Then we proceeded to the encounter proper. I will let the pictures below speak for themselves.

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View of the friendly rays from the aquarium walls

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Touching a Ray with bare hands was a dream come true! Thanks to Kuyang Trainer for calming the ray every time it feels uncomfortable with me

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Me, the Mermaid together with friendly fishes and rays

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An underwater shot of me trying to reach/feel these couple sharks. Failed on my first and second attempt. Succeeded on my third!

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Reaching out to you, can you feel it too… ♩ ♪ ♫ ♬

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Close encounter with a shark

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Brother and I on the last minute of the 45 minute encounter. I was the happiest and the most satisfied!

The whole experience was surreal! I never thought I was able to get near rays and sharks and be able to touch them. It was so cool I cannot stop talking about it to anybody up until now.  I know it may seem exaggerated to those who heard my story over and over again, describing it as a total life changing experience. But believe me, it’s real. I even asked some staff on how to become a qualified trainer, as I never wanted anything in life that moment but swim with these friendly creatures. (You can check more event photos HERE)

I really would like to go back and try the other programs. It is indeed a once in a lifetime experience you cannot miss! So thank you big time Manila Ocean Park.

Photo Credits to Manila Ocean Park (Official) and Juan Hapito. Also thanks to Mommy Lariza and Evir for the invite. And Kuya Ed Aguilar for lending the underwater camera used in most of the pictures here.

Manila Ocean Park is located behind Quirino Grandstand, Luneta, Manila. For updates and details, check out www.manilaoceanpark.com or call 567-7777 loc. 153. Or like them on FB Page and Twitter.

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