National Sea Life Centre (Birmingham)
The National Sea Life Centre (grid reference ) is an aquarium with over 60 displays of freshwater and marine life in Brindleyplace, Birmingham, England. Its ocean tank has a capacity of 1,000,000 litres (220,000 imp gal) of water and houses giant green sea turtles, blacktip reef sharks and tropical reef fish, with the only fully transparent 360-degree underwater tunnel in the United Kingdom. The building was designed by Sir Norman Foster.
It is located alongside the Birmingham Canal Navigations Main Line Canal by Old Turn Junction and opposite Arena Birmingham. It opened on 5 July 1996, at which time it was the only inland sea life centre in the UK.
Housing over 2,000 creatures from around the world, the centre describes itself as a place that 'transports visitors into an underwater world of discovery'. 'Breed, Rescue and Protect' conservation projects are undertaken by aquarium staff, including an extensive seahorse breeding programme, with many species of newly reared seahorses in tanks viewable by visitors.
In 2009, the Centre announced as its newest attraction, a "Sensorama 4-D Cinema". In addition to 3-D viewing, the audience can be subjected to sensations such as wind, salt spray, and the smell the seaweed, or other sensations depending on the (sea-themed) film.
The centre has been featured in a number of documentaries, including the BBC's 'Penguins on a plane: Great animal moves' and 'Shark'. Sir David Attenborough visited the centre in 2010 while filming his BBC2 series First Animals.
Accolades and awards
The National Sea Life Centre Birmingham is one of the West Midlands' most popular tourist attractions and welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. It was voted Aquarium of the Year and Warwickshire Family Attraction of the Year (despite not being in the current administrative county of Warwickshire) by the Good Britain Guide 2004.
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