Experience a shark and ray encounter now at Anna Bay
It’s a rite of passage for any Novocastrian family to spend time out in Port Stephens, but how many of us have dropped into the Irukandji Shark & Ray centre? They’re an institution to the area, operating since 2014 Irukandji Shark & Ray has just recently opened their new centre in Anna Bay and it’s worth adding it to your to-visit list this Summer.
Since 2014, the Pereira family took over the old shed venue out at Bob’s Farm and acquired all of the animals that came with it. The past six years have seen the Irukandji Shark & Ray team tirelessly working toward creating an environment suitable for the various marine animals.
“Through staff training based around customer service and animal welfare, new, interactive and educational tours, and a strong commitment for conserving our oceans and planet, Irukandji became what we are known for today, a local education and conservation hub.”
After creating a successful space to educate and care for animals, the team started moving towards a new goal; creating a brand-new centre in a new location. Phase one saw the new facility open with a large outdoor lagoon, a tropical indoor aquarium, picnic areas, and souvenir shop.
Everything has been thought out in phase one, with each decision made to be as natural as possible with a focus on the animal’s welfare.
“Large lagoons with sandy shores, rocky reefs, lots of caves, crevices and holes, and a strong current allows them to feel more comfortable, and also makes for great enrichment as they can explore, go into new caves, burrow under the sand and play in the current and bubbles.”
The family-run business has a number of phases in the works to further build on the Irukandji Shark & Ray offerings. From new guest amenities, a dedicated rehabilitation centre, a jellyfish room, an extreme shark experience and so much more.
Partner business and non-for-profit organisation, Sea Shelter, a small group of passionate individuals carrying out conservation in the Hunter region, is currently occupying space to the side in the main building.
With the completion of phase three, Irukandji will move into a new building, freeing up the current space for the Sea Shelter Marina Hospital.
“This hospital will be the only one of its kind and will bridge the gap between Sydney and Coffs Harbour taking some pressure off Taronga Wildlife Hospital and increasing chances of successful rehabilitation.”
So, what can you get up to on a visit to Irukandji Shark & Ray?
Stay dry looking at the tropical indoor aquarium, nursery, or even wading into the shallow beaches. Keen to get wet? Experience a guided tour with a Shark Encounter, go Snorkelling, or take part in a big Shark Feeding.
“The sharks and rays reveal a whole new side that has never been realised with their bad reputations, they are incredibly intelligent animals who amaze the visitors through a variety of captured natural behaviours.”
Shallows Encounter - Get just your feet wet whilst you wade in the sandy shallows feeding and petting the sharks and rays.
Shark Encounter – Get right in with the sharks and spend some time feeding and interacting with them. Listen to your guide as they share a wealth of knowledge about marine life and ocean conservation.
Tropical Snorkel – Get your wetsuit on and head into the deeper water with an experienced guide. Swim around with the array of amazing animals.
Zebra Shark Feeding – Spend some quality time up close and personal with the beautiful Zebra Sharks. Feed and pet them whilst you learn why they’re called zebra sharks; despite their spots!
Tawny Nurse Shark Feeding – Did you know that a Tawny Nurse Shark can suck in six litres of water in one second? Not for the faint-hearted, you can experience it first-hand! Feel the force of the suction as the sharks snatch the large piece of food.
Next time you’re heading out to Port Stephens, make the trip to drop in Irukandji Shark & Ray Encounters. Plan ahead and book here.