National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth

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National Marine Aquarium
National Aquarium Plymouth logo
Entrance to the National Marine Aquarium
Date opened 1998[1]
Location Plymouth, England
Coordinates 50°22′00″N 4°07′53″W / 50.3666°N 4.1313°W / 50.3666; -4.1313Coordinates: 50°22′00″N 4°07′53″W / 50.3666°N 4.1313°W / 50.3666; -4.1313
Number of animals 4,000
Number of species 400
Volume of largest tank 2,500,000 l (660,000 US gal)
Memberships BIAZA[2]

The National Marine Aquarium is a marine aquarium located in the city of Plymouth, England. Built on reclaimed land, it is located in Sutton Harbour, next to the Barbican and fishmarket, and was opened in May 1998.[1] It is the largest aquarium in the United Kingdom.

The mission statement of the National Marine Aquarium is "Driving Marine Conservation through Engagement". It is dedicated to its charitable aims of research, education and conservation.

The National Marine Aquarium is a member of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA).


View from across the Harbour

The Aquarium is divided into 4 main zones: Plymouth Sound, British Coasts, Atlantic Ocean and Blue Planet. A visit to the aquarium takes you on a journey from the local waters of Plymouth across the world to the Great Barrier Reef.

Plymouth Sound

This zone displays marine life found around Plymouth. It concentrates on the surprising range of habitats found around the City. Most animals displayed in this zone are found in shallow water. sea stars, rays, lobsters, and an octopus.

British Coasts

As visitors move on to the coasts of Britain, they can discover the potential of renewable energy from our Oceans. This zone houses life-size models of whales and dolphins found around Britain and the large Eddystone tank displays creatures found on the Eddystone reef, 12 miles offshore from Plymouth. Through a huge window, visitors can see conger eels, mullet, pollack, bream, and smooth hound sharks swimming in the open water, flatfish and rays hiding on the seabed, and lobsters and crabs hiding in the rocks.

Atlantic Ocean

This zone contains various areas within, including 'Ocean Drifters', 'Ocean Lab', 'Observation Deck', 'Lost At Sea' and 'Ocean Predators' The 'Ocean Drifters' jelly exhibit was opened in 2009, and includes moon jellies, Japanese sea nettles, and Upside-down jellyfish, housed in round tanks to prevent damage to their delicate bodies. The other areas take you around the largest tank of the aquarium housing 1,000 Caribbean fish including grey nurse shark, barracuda, southern stingray and tarpon. The tank volume is 2.5 million litres. This exhibit was updated at the end of 2009, with the largest ever shipment of live fish into the UK, from Barbados, West Indies. The aquarium introduced more than 18 new species.[3]

Blue Planet

This zone includes 'Biozone' and the 'Great Barrier Reef'. Biozone showcases the amazing biodiversity found in the world's oceans and displays longhorn cowfish, lionfish, Giant Pacific Octopus Enteroctopus dofleini and seahorses. The Great Barrier Reef exhibit is the grand finale of the visit. The second largest tank displays some of the most colourful fish in the world.


Notable achievements of the NMA since its opening include the sinking of HMS Scylla to create an artificial reef in Whitsand Bay, Cornwall, as well as the recently completed Just Add H2O learning centre.


  1. ^ a b "National Marine Aquarium". Plymouth Places. Retrieved 22 February 2011. 
  2. ^ "BIAZA Zoos and Aquariums". BIAZA. Retrieved 21 February 2011. 
  3. ^ Staff Writer (10 September 2009). "Caribbean fish to be flown to UK". BBC News. Retrieved 13 September 2009. Eighteen species of fish will be flown from Ocean Park in Barbados to a new home at the National Marine Aquarium. The 42-tonne consignment of 100 fish, in 19 specially-constructed tanks, is said to be the biggest ever shipment of live fish into the UK. 

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