A few decades ago, before amazing television documentaries like the BBC Blue Planet series, life below the waves was a mystery to most South Africans. This was compounded by the fact that we had no world-class aquariums to visit. That changed in November 1995, when the dream of brothers Richard and Geoff Starke became reality, and the Two Oceans Aquarium opened after eight years of research and 18 months of construction, on the largely barren strip of land that is today the bustling V&A Waterfront.
It was the largest aquarium in Africa at the time, but has since been overtaken by uShaka Sea World in Durban, which was completed in 2004. The Two Oceans Aquarium was originally funded by the Transnet Pension Fund and Norwich Life SA, which was later amalgamated into Investec Bank.
The original structures cost R34 million to build. By comparison, the building of the I&J Ocean Exhibit in 2016, and the refurbishment of the shark and kelp forest exhibits, cost around R50 million.