Top ten British aquariums FEATURE
Feature article by BritEvents.
Share this feature
Previous: Britain's Best Rollercoasters
Stuck for somewhere to take the family when the weather has turned bad? Why not visit one of Britain's best sealife aquariums, as reviewed by BritEvents' Lucy Middleton.
By Lucy Middleton, BritEvents.com
When it's bucketing it down with rain and you fancy a change of scenery, it's sometimes hard to know where to go for a day out in Britain.
Aquariums are great fun for all the family, whatever the weather, whatever the season, and BritEvents has listed Britain's Top 10 Aquariums for you to choose from.
1. National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth
01752 600 301
The National Marine Aquarium is the Britain's largest aquarium, with a whole section dedicated to Britain's sea life including the comical Tompot blenny, a colourful array of anemones, starfish, seahorses and even small sharks.
The colossal Atlantic Ocean display tank is the biggest in Britain, with over 2.5 million litres serving as a home to a diverse community of sharks, rays and reef fish that originate from the second largest ocean in the world.
With numerous display tanks full of fascinating creatures from around the blue planet, it is easy to see why this enchanting aquarium is a BritEvents favourite.
2. Blue Planet Aquarium in Chester
0151 357 8804
The Blue Planet Aquarium in Cheshire proudly holds the title for Europe's largest collection of sharks in a phenomenal tank of over 1500 fish, sharks and rays. The fish in this breathtaking tank can be viewed from the seated Aquatheatre or the spectacular 70 metre underwater tunnel with moving walkway. They say the material used for the tank is so thick it makes the tank inhabitants seem smaller than they are if that's the case, we dread to think how much bigger the sand tiger sharks look when there isn't a thick acrylic barrier between us!
There is an abundance of different tanks full of marine and freshwater life, but the Lake Malawi tank with over 100 species of vibrantly coloured cichlids is one of our favourite display tanks, along with the curious and chirpy Canadian sea otters exhibit outside.
The Coral Cave is new for 2011 and is home to more than a thousand reef fish species. The attraction also features a walkway to view the naturally-themed coral reef display tank from above, as well as in the cave.
3. Brighton Sea Life Aquarium
Get up close and personal with fantastic ocean life without getting soaked! The Brighton Sea Life aquarium is another top British day out with its interactive rock pool, giant green and loggerhead turtle species, graceful yet peculiar moon jellyfish, super-smart octopus and many more critters.
New for 2011 and a UK exclusive, the aquarium has introduced the glass bottomed boat feature which allows visitors the chance to view the resident turtles, sharks and reef fish in the ocean tank from a snorkeller's perspective.
4. London Sea Life Aquarium
Westminster Bridge Road
0871 663 1678
One of Britain's best known aquariums and for all the right reasons - 500 species, 14 themed zones and many interactive areas to learn all about your favourite creatures of the sea.
2011's New attraction is a colony of Gentoo penguins, found in the "Penguins: Ice Adventure" area, which features a penguin viewing ice cave, freezing touch pools and snow goggles which show you what it looks like to be in a snowstorm!
5. Deep Sea World, Fife, Scotland
01383 411 880
Deep Sea World in Fife, Scotland is an aquarium with a difference; with a seal sanctuary outside, the aquarium guides you through the journey of seal rehabilitation and emphasises the importance of conservation.
At a staggering 112 metres in length, the aquarium's underwater tunnel is one of the longest underwater tunnels in the world and is the safest, driest place to come face to face with sand tiger sharks and other fishy friends.
The Mount Krakatoa feature is a fascinating recreation of the villages forced underwater by a huge volcanic eruption in 1883. The village ruins are now home to a stunning array of coral reef fish, which are all on display in the Deep Sea World exhibit.
6. Birmingham Sea Life Centre
0871 423 2110
Home to the UK's only hammerhead sharks, that live amongst giant green sea turtles and black tip reef sharks, the Birmingham Sea Life Centre is an aquarium and a half!
The Sea Life Centre demonstrates just how much variety there is in the sea, with animals such as a rather ferocious-looking dragon moray eel, a variety of wrasses, very peculiar invertebrates such as sea apples and even a dedicated reef fish tank which features the stars from the Finding Nemo film.
7. Sea Life Great Yarmouth
01493 330 631
With over 1,000 creatures spread over 60 different displays which include rock pools, penguins, rays, turtle breeding and dwarf crocodiles - Sea Life Great Yarmouth was one aquarium we couldn't miss off our list.
As lion tamers of the sea, the aquarium staff have been training their nurse sharks cool tricks to help keep them mentally stimulated. You can view the sharks enjoying their daily training sessions and make sure you spot Nigel; a 16 stone nurse shark who was originally bought by a member of the public who believed he would only grow to a few feet long!
The newest feature attraction for 2011 is rather special with two different types of sea dragon - leafy and weedy. Close relatives to seahorses, sea dragons are beautifully bizarre creatures who are experts at camouflage, so be sure not to miss them.
8. Oceanarium, Dorset
01202 311 993
The Oceanarium in Dorset easily made our top 10, particularly due to its unusual and imaginative exhibition, The Abyss. Here you can find strange creatures found only in the cold, dark depths of the ocean, including the flashlight fish with its brightly glowing patches below its eye caused by bacteria, the nautilus which is unlike anything you've ever seen before and the north pacific giant octopus.
Going from the deep waters of the abyss, you will find the Great Barrier Reef display which is home to a vast amount of colourful damselfish, sharks, rays and other reef fish that are found in the shallows of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
9. Seaquarium, Weston-Super-Mare
Weston Super Mare
01934 641 603
Opened in 1995 and situated right on the beach, Seaquarium offers guests the opportunity to look past the waves and see creatures of all shapes and sizes from around the globe.
Unique to the Seaquarium, EvoZone displays distant relatives of the primitive creatures that first stepped onto dry land after evolving underwater for millions of years. The zone is a fascinating look as to how and why our creatures today have stood the test of time.
The Ocean Depths Zone is the piece de resistance which features an underwater tunnel for visitors to walk through while Britain's sharks, rays and fish swim above, just inches away.
10. Sea Life Blackpool
01253 621 258
Sea Life Blackpool is one of Britain's best seaside aquariums with over 50 displays and approximately 200 creatures.
The newest attraction "Crusty Creatures of the Deep" features the incredibly cool Japanese Spider Crabs - which can grow up to an astounding 12 feet from leg to leg. These giants also share the attraction with coconut crabs and lobsters. So incredibly far removed from humans, the longer you look at them, the more bizarre they seem!