No lessons needed for dive of a lifetime

(SUPPLIED)

Ever watched the divers in that giant fish tank at the Dubai Mall and wished you could join them inside for a closer look at all those weird critters – but without the bother of learning how to dive?

Well, now you can thanks to the latest attraction at the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. Following on from the Shark Dive and glass-bottom boat trips comes… the Cage Experience.

This one is aimed at non-divers who are curious to see some of the 33,000 fish in the tank at close quarters – or perhaps people who don't fancy getting in the water with dozens of two-metre long sand tiger sharks without some protection.

The experience employs the steel cage used by the aquarium team when they feed the sharks, and you are provided with all the gear you need – a mask and snorkel plus a wetsuit and neoprene socks to keep you warm.

The experience starts off with a briefing that makes the point that sharks are not as dangerous as people think and explains how you should behave in the cage.

You are told never to shove your fingers through the bars of the cage – for a very good reason. The sharks and other large fish are accustomed to being fed by hand, so they associate fingers with food…

Also some smaller fish swim inside the cage, but you're told to avoid touching them as this can harm them. Then it's off to the changing room to get suited up.

You then walk down a swaying staircase and down a ladder into the cage – it's all very easy, there isn't even any swimming involved, and soon you are eyeball to eyeball with hundreds of sleek, shiny fish. The walls and floor of the cage are acrylic so you have an uninterrupted view of the marine life.

The cage is suspended above the transparent underwater tunnel, and you look directly down on the top of the heads of people clutching brightly coloured Candylicious carrier bags.

The cage holds two members of the public and two instructors. Each has two viewing stations with a horizontal bar to hold, one facing towards the giant viewing panel at the front of the aquarium and the other immediately behind, facing the smaller panels at the back. You can easily move from one to the other, though you have to be careful you don't kick one of the other snorkellers as you do so.

As you cling on to the bar your legs float up behind you because of the air bubbles in the neoprene wetsuit.

Through the rear panels you can see diners at Romano's Macaroni Grill tucking into their lunch – surely they're not having seafood linguini?

 

The Cage Experience at the Dubai Mall is available from noon to 3pm and from 4.30pm to 8.30pm daily. It costs Dh225 per person, including entry to the Underwater Zoo and the aquarium tunnel.

 

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