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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 7 March 2021

The scuba-diving Santa: Father Christmas feeds sharks in South America’s largest aquarium

AquaRio's socially distanced Santas are diving with sharks in the Brazilian aquarium every day until Christmas

A scuba-diving Santa waves to a visitor on the other side of the glass. Courtesy Flickr / Erik Drost 
A scuba-diving Santa waves to a visitor on the other side of the glass. Courtesy Flickr / Erik Drost 

Has this shark been naughty or nice?

It’s a question that most Santas don’t need to consider, unless you're one of Brazil's scuba-diving St Nicks.

Santa Claus is plunging seven metres below the water at AquaRio, South America’s largest aquarium, this year.

In an attempt to bring festive cheer to visitors, staff dressed as Santa will dive into the largest tank every day until Christmas. Once inside the aquarium's Oceanic Enclosure, divers will feed the sharks, clean the tank walls and swim with the fishes.

The stunt is designed to raise awareness of the importance of protecting marine life. And while the holly on your own front door might be the prettiest sight to see at Christmas, a scuba-diving Santa will perhaps be the most unusual sight this festive season.

Containing more than 3.5 million litres of water, the tank inside the Marine Aquarium of Rio de Janeiro is home to countless manta rays, sting rays, fish and sharks.

The activity is an entirely socially distanced way for children to meet Santa Claus this year. A thick glass undersea tunnel used for visitors to cross the tank means it's safe for people to get close to the scuba-diving Santas, despite the global pandemic.

Felipe Luna, who works at AquaRio, said he thinks it's important for Santa Claus to be spotted in the aquarium to “bring an understanding of animals to children, to learn about biology and how we can preserve the oceans".

During his pre-Christmas dives in AquaRio, Santa is joined by Amanda Xavier, as the scuba-diving Mrs Claus. She says that her role as Santa’s underwater wife brings lots of smiles to the aquarium.

South America’s largest aquarium has reopened to visitors with Covid-19 safety precautions in place. These include mandatory face masks, reduced capacity, online reservations and medical staff on site.

Brazil has the third highest number of coronavirus cases in the world with 6,929,409 confirmed cases at last count.

Updated: December 16, 2020 10:11 AM


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