National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth
National Aquarium Plymouth logo
Entrance to the National Marine Aquarium
|No. of animals||4,000|
|No. of species||400|
|Volume of largest tank||2,500,000 l (660,000 US gal)|
|Major exhibits||4 main zones|
The National Marine Aquarium is a marine aquarium built on reclaimed land in the city of Plymouth, England, in Sutton Harbour, next to the Barbican and fishmarket. It was opened in May 1998, with charitable aims of research, education and conservation. It is the largest aquarium in the United Kingdom.
It is a member of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA).
The Aquarium is divided into four main zones: Plymouth Sound, British Coasts, Atlantic Ocean and Blue Planet. A visit to the aquarium goes from the local waters of Plymouth to the Great Barrier Reef of Australia.
This zone displays marine life found around Plymouth. It concentrates on the surprising range of habitats found around the City. There are 17 tanks (which include a rock pool and a wave tank) are home to approximately 80 species of fish and invertebrates; including local sharks and rays.
The second exhibit is the largest native offering in Britain. 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 located around Britain. The large Eddystone tank displays an array of creatures found on the Eddystone reef, 19 km south of 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.
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 nurse shark, lemon shark, sand tiger 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. It was updated again in 2015/16 with the addition of Lemon and sand-tiger sharks.
The Laboratory allows you to see what life is like working behind the scenes at the aquarium. Biologists can be seen taking care of the younger generation of species being bred and cared for before entering the main exhibits. This process is the most important moment for the species, as they grow and are placed into an ecosystems suited to their natural lifestyle
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 at 700,000 litres, and by far the most colourful, the reef is home to over 70 species of fish. It is also the home of the loggerhead turtle, Snorkel, who has been with the aquarium since 1990.
The National Marine Aquarium is a dedicated charity that drives marine conservation through engagement. They led a project to sink frigate HMS Scylla in 2004 to create an artificial reef in Whitsand Bay, Cornwall. It is the lead partner in Just Add H2O, a schools learning centre. Which also offers outreach programs based around the National Curriculum teaching 30,000 school children each year. Through National Marine Aquarium grants smaller charities can further help with driving marine conservation.
- "National Marine Aquarium". historyofplymouth.co.uk. Plymouth Places. Retrieved 22 February 2011.
- "BIAZA Zoos and Aquariums". biaza.org.uk. BIAZA. Retrieved 21 February 2011.
- wrecktoreef Web site:Artifical reef has generated millions for the Cornish economy, 7 April 2014