The Best Aquariums in the UK
Image Credit: Francis Taylor
Do the kids love fish, dolphins, or sharks? Have they seen 'Finding Nemo' or 'Shark Tale' and want to see the real thing? Mine love sea life, and so they are always keen to visit an aquarium!
Aquariums are more than just a great day out - many provide educational resources, and carry out important conservation work.
The Best Aquariums in the UK
- The National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth is the UK's largest aquarium. It has a massive collection of sea life, including a display devoted to the UK's marine life as well The Great Barrier Reef and the Atlantic Ocean tank which contains a life size replica of a WW2 seaplane. The National Marine Aquarium was the first aquarium in the United Kingdom to be set upfor education, conservation and research. It also has an art gallery, a maritime garden and an exciting programme of school holiday events.
- The London Aquarium is in Central London, right next to The London Eye. The capital's only aquarium is huge, with a multi-sensory voyage of discovery through the rivers, lakes and oceans of the world. You can see octopuses, eels, sharks, piranhas, rays, jellyfish, clownfish, tangs and even some Gentoo penguins.
- Brighton Sealife Centre This sealife centre near the seafront in Brighton boasts the UK's first glass bottomed boat in an aquarium. You can touch starfish and crabs and watch feeding demonstrations every day. You will also see sharks, marine fish, octopuses, rays and much more.
- Blue Reef Aquariums are situated in Southsea (Portsmouth), Tynemouth on Newcastle's coast, Tyne and Wear, in Hastings in East Sussex and in Newquay, Cornwall. See clownefish and bullfrogs, bearded dragons and snakes as well as sharks and pufferfish, seahorses and jellyfish.
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- Exploris is Northern Ireland's only Aquarium is situated on the shores of a marine nature reserve and area of special scientific interest at Strangford Lough. Along with a host of marine life to see there is also a seal sanctury, and displays of repltiles, snakes and crocodiles. They hold regular events at weekends and school holidays with craft activities and a chance to see divers feeding the sharks every sunday.
- The Lake District Coast Aquarium is on the quayside at Maryport, Cumbria. It has special displays on the marine life of the Irish Sea and Solway Estuary and does much to raise awareness of the area's marine heritage. Displays of freshwater fish include trout and carp as well as some lesser known species like the porcupine pufferfish, as well as lobsters, sharks and rays.
- St. Andrews Aquarium can be found close by the Royal & Ancient Golf Club in Fife. It's displays include shrimp, octopus, eels, rays and seals - with an Amazonian display including the deadly piranha. They also have everything from British sharks to spiders, lobsters to lionfish, poison dart frogs to piranhas, loveable seals…… and some fabulous meerkats.
- Aquarium of the Lakes in Lakeside, Newby Bridge, Cumbria is a unique freshwater aquarium featuring the UK's largest collection of freshwater fish. You can also learna bout and even feed the otters, or see all the creepy crawlies in the rainforest exhibit. The website includes a special kid's section with games, colouring pictures and quizzes.
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- The Oceanarium in Bournmouth has marine life from all over the globe - sharks, sea turtles, stingrays, dwarf crocodiles, jellyfish, clownfish and a very cute otter family. It has feeding demonstrations and talks plus a walk-through underwater tunnel. It also hosts a programme of events for kids and adults throughout the year.
- Seaquarium Has two locations; one is built on it's own pier on the wonderful sandy beach at Weston-Super-Mare while SeaQuarium Rhyl has an open seafront location and sits on the beautiful North Wales coastline. Featuring species from around the world on show in 9 different zones, plus our amazing outdoor Sea Lion Cove where you can meet our delightful harbour seals. This state-of-the-art exhibit gives you a fantastic underwater view of seals in their 33,000 gallon pool. A delightful exhibition with displays and talks, your ticket is valid all day so you can go in as often as you like (Our 4-year-old insisted on going in three times).
- Deep Sea World is situated beneath the world famous Forth Rail Bridge at North Queensferry in Fife. In the world's longest underwater viewing tunnel you can walk along the bottom of ocean as sharks glide inches above your head, or even go shark diving - all training is included so this is open to everyone. They have a big educational programme and are currently working with the SSPCA to build a Seal Sanctuary at the centre.
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About the Author: Jacqui O'Brien is the Editor of eParenting