Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium

Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium

There is much beauty to be found at the Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium – the ability to experience a marine environment up close is breath taking and will be long remembered.

When: Daily 9.30am – 6pm (last entry 5pm)

Where:  Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium, Cnr Flinders & King Sts MELBOURNE

Cost:  Pre purchase online and save, adult ticket box $38, adult online ticket $30.40, book here.


Seeing the sea life up close feels like a magical and special privilege.  The breadth of species of marine life on display is mind boggling – and the Aquarium is massive.  Expect your visit to take about 2 hours (possibly longer if you want to return and revisit sections again).

The design of the aquarium is fantastic – plenty if different viewing opportunities for all ages (and the kids sized tunnels with viewing bubbles was a favourite).  There are opportunities to learn more about the inhabitants via the daily feeds and talks held throughout the day, there is even opportunities to get your hands wet in the rock pools, plus visit the Art Aquarium to see your own fishy creations come to life on a 9m screen and my school aged children loved completing their passbooks we collected when we entered.

We were so excited seeing the marine life up close – some of them so colourful, others almost alien.  It’s one thing to see a documentary on TV but a very different experience to actually see the animal in real life.  To appreciate their scale and their detail and engineering – it’s really only possible up close and personal.

The Aquarium actively participates in rehabilitating and releasing sea turtles as well as educating visitors about the importance of our oceans and marine life.  The aquarium is also promotes sustainability, from the cleaning products they use to the food served in their venues and cafes.

“By displaying these animals, we seek to inspire guests to learn more about our underwater world, with interpretive signage communicating messages of conservation.”

But I need to get something off my chest.

I struggle with feeling 100% comfortable about aquariums (maybe this is a misguided and subconscious link to Seaworlds I visited around America as a child).. hence this review has been four years coming.  The last time I went to Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium Immi was a pre-schooler (she’s now 9).  Back then the king penguins had just arrived – and seeing them in their glass enclosure made my heart sad.  Perhaps I am a romantic fool – but I just couldn’t feel 100% comfortable about seeing a group of animals who were born to travel and survive extreme conditions just stand about in a giant windowless refrigerator.

I appreciate this is probably a complete double standard on my part – can I really feel distressed about this group of penguins yet embrace enclosures at other types of zoos?  I went to the Aquariums website to see if I could find more information about the animals welfare – there really wasn’t much to make me feel better, but there was talk about their very successful breeding programs (Melbourne being one of three aquariums in the world enjoying such success) and this success being a “testament to the health, welfare and comfort of the penguins living within the state-of-the-art exhibit”.

So I am torn.  Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium is full of so much beauty and wonder (the number of photos I took is a testament to that!).. I have to believe that the staff who work there are professionals, that they care deeply for their animals – you don’t just study marine biology, or veterinary science, without being passionate about animals.  Having animals on display is never the ideal natural life they were born to have – but if it means that their cousins in the wild have a better chance because of this exposure and education (and their needs are being met in a humane way) then is it all bad??  What do you think?  Have you been?