Aquaria KLCC’s unique ‘Gong Sea Fa Cai’ underwater lion dance is back to entertain visitors

Aquaria KLCC gains a new attraction this Chinese New Year. — Pix by Miera Zulyana
Aquaria KLCC gains a new attraction this Chinese New Year. — Pix by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 30 — The sea turtles and sharks at Aquaria KLCC today had an unexpected “playmate” when dancers plunged into the tank to give a lion dance performance.

Seasoned divers clad in a pink lion dance costume frolicked in the aqua theatre during a media preview to wish visitors “Gong Sea Fa Cai” as a myriad of colourful sea creatures circled them.

Outside the tank, two other lions pranced to the pulsating music.

Aquaria KLCC general manager Daryl Foong told Malay Mail that the lion suit had to be soaked in salt water for a few days prior to the event.

This was to make sure there was no chemical bleaching or anything else that might harm the fish.

“We have a couple of divers on standby as well to make sure the lion doesn’t knock into anything or startle the fish,” he said.

Divers performing a traditional Chinese lion dance underwater during the Gong SEA Fa Cai & launches of Transparent Fish Exhibition in Aquaria KLCC on January 30, 2019.
Divers performing a traditional Chinese lion dance underwater during the Gong SEA Fa Cai & launches of Transparent Fish Exhibition in Aquaria KLCC on January 30, 2019.

The underwater lion dance was performed by experienced divers who have been working alongside the aquarium for many years.

Their expertise allows them to execute the show with the moves and know-how needed to make the one-of-a-kind feat go smoothly and safely.

They rank from advanced divers to master scuba diver instructors.

Most of them are safety divers as well.

“There is an element of safety that we need to maintain in the aquarium because at the end of the day, we do have sharks in the tank and they are wild animals.

“Even though they are quite used to human presence, we still have to respect them,” said Foong.

A visitor looks into the tank as the lion dancers get ready for their performance.
A visitor looks into the tank as the lion dancers get ready for their performance.

While most of the fish were generally nonchalant about the lion’s presence in their home, the green sea turtles are known to get quite cheeky once they catch sight of the new arrival.

“They’ll start nudging the lion, maybe hoping there’s a bit of food in it for them.”

He added that even lion dancers on dry land have been impressed by the technical details that go into the underwater show.

“As any diver would know, there’s a certain degree of skill that’s required to maintain buoyancy in the water and to be able to do the motions well.”

Aquaria KLCC first debuted their underwater lion dance during Chinese New Year in 2009 and continued to hold it on and off in the years that followed.

Positive feedback from the public has resulted in the special event being held continuously for three years.

One of the specimens on display at Aquaria KLCC’s Transparent Fish Exhibition.
One of the specimens on display at Aquaria KLCC’s Transparent Fish Exhibition.

The aquarium also recently launched their Transparent Fish Exhibition with Taiwan’s National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium and Universiti Malaysia Terengganu.

More than 20 different bony specimens were produced by transitioning the creatures’ muscles and tissues and colouring their innards and cartilages with special dyes.

The finished result has the fishes looking like they were put underneath an X-ray without the need for fancy or bulky equipment.

Special chemicals were used to stain the fish skeletons and achieve the final effect.
Special chemicals were used to stain the fish skeletons and achieve the final effect.

By rendering the specimens in this way, it allows both the public and researchers to get educational insights into the skeletal framework and growth process of aquatic animals.

Visitors can catch the Transparent Fish Exhibition at Aquaria KLCC until March 2019.

Visitors can catch the underwater lion dance at 4pm on February 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 16, and 17.

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