Newcastle Herald

New lagoon makes debutAdvertising Feature

THEY'VE done it!

After moving to Anna Bay and straight into a challenging two years of navigating the pandemic, the team at Irukandji Shark & Ray Encounters in Anna Bay has unveiled phase two: the spectacular Tropical Lagoon.

Ready to make a splash: Irukandji Shark & Ray Encounters owners Lia and Ryan Pereira wading with zebra sharks alongside daughter Riley and son Silas to celebrate the opening of the centre's new lagoon. Picture: Supplied.

Phase one of the development opened in July 2020 and phase two is now open.

"It has been our dream to build a natural lagoon-style habitat since starting in 2014 and we are now so excited, first with Fingill Lagoon in 2020 and now doubling in size, creating our reality with the new Tropical Lagoon," owners Ryan and Lia Pereira said.

The newest development includes the large 800,000-litre purpose-built, heated lagoon designed around a natural coral atoll.

The area houses large caves, rocky outcrops and a sandy area to suit the tropical sharks and rays who inhabit it, including tawny nurse sharks, zebra sharks, whitetip reef sharks, leopard whip rays and many more.

The Pereira's are incredibly grateful to all the companies, community, staff and volunteers who have helped bring the natural lagoon and (soon to be enclosed) building together.

The interactive adventure allows every visitor to enter the natural-style lagoons in the shallows or the deep to feed and pet the animals or experience an encounter like no other.

The aim is to bust myths about species that are often misunderstood and unnecessarily feared by allowing visitors to meet them up close, pet them, feed them, snorkel with them and discover their incredible nature and personalities along the way, creating stewardship for the ocean and helping to save them from extinction

Ryan and Lia, who share a background in marine biology and zookeeping, are passionate about the environment and conservation of all marine life.

Dedicating their lives to this cause, the family-owned business is a local leader in conservation initiatives such as Sea Shelter and the turtle rehab facility.

The owners and staff are passionate conservationists and much of the centre's profits go to assisting wildlife through its sister organisation, Sea Shelter, which is run by volunteers who rescue, rehabilitate, and release injured sea turtles, sharks, stingrays, fish and sea snakes.

Future development plans on site include building a state-of-the-art Sea Shelter Turtle Hospital.

If you would like to get involved in ocean conservation, join Irukandji & Sea Shelter on June 11 for the Return & Earn Beach Clean.

All marine debris collected on the day receives a 10c per item reward in shark bucks value at Irukandji Shark & Ray Encounters.

If you can collect enough rubbish, your entire ticket could be free.

Sign up on Facebook or the website to be a part of this important World Oceans Day event at www.sharkencounters.com.au