"The Big Blue" is Palma Aquarium's shark tank. It's the deepest tank in Europe and as well as four different species of shark, two species of ray and many assorted fish, it holds three and a half million litres of sea water. For €200 (which includes hire of all the equipment), you can add yourself to that list.
Before I met the fish I was introduced to Fidel, my dive instructor. I assured him that I held a full PADI license and was of sound body and mind. Something that was met with sceptical looks by my friend; "Haven't you seen Jaws?"
I have seen Jaws, many times. But a little research turned up the fact that more people are killed by collapsing sand holes than shark attacks. With the knowledge that it was statistically more probable that the Earth would swallow me whole than one of the Aquarium's fish, I signed my consent form and was given a wetsuit to take into the changing room.
At the top of the shark tank there is a small shelf where we fitted our weight belts, put on our our tanks and inflated our BCD's. In all honesty it had been a while since I had been diving and as I flapped and splashed trying to put on my fins, with all the grace and poise of a fish out of water, I realised that this was not my habitat and I was actually a little bit scared.
However, once I was in the water and breathing away, the excitement I had felt earlier came flooding back. I was warm and comfortable inside my suit and one of the first things I saw was a 10 foot sand tiger shark gliding past me. In the tank, the sharks move very slowly and there is a gracefulness to them that I had not expected - a sort of majesty.
The sharks moved through their tank without paying me much notice. They passed by on my left and right and swam above my head. As they glided above me I looked up to see row upon row of teeth. A shark can have up to 3000 teeth and as they have no roots they fall out easily, something I discovered when Fidel swam up to me with one he had found on the floor of the tank - a present for me, he gestured.
The tank is also home to smaller more curious fish, who were happy to swim right up to me. The other occupants of the tank were the rays. These are astonishingly beautiful and fly through the water, their wings gently rippling, like creatures from another planet.
When I finally came out of the water I was grinning, a smile that didn't leave my face for the rest of the day. The dive lasts about 20 minutes but it had felt that I had been a part of that underwater world for a lot longer.
The shark tank at Palma Aquarium is quite incredible and if diving in it does not appeal you can watch the fish through the glass, which is a magical experience in it's own right. There are even comfy floor cushions for you to lounge back on whilst you admire the grace of the fish. There is also SNUBA; a diving option for those with no previous diving experience. For only ten Euros you can "dive" in a two metre deep pool breathing through an aqualung on the surface.
For more information on Palma Aquarium and other water parks in Mallorca visit our Waterparks in Mallorca page.
- Diving / Scuba Centre
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