National Sea Life Centre (Birmingham)

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National Sea Life Centre
The entrance and side of the National Sea Life Centre building
Location Birmingham, England
Coordinates 52°28′43.83″N 1°54′48.57″W / 52.4788417°N 1.9134917°W / 52.4788417; -1.9134917Coordinates: 52°28′43.83″N 1°54′48.57″W / 52.4788417°N 1.9134917°W / 52.4788417; -1.9134917

The National Sea Life Centre (grid reference SP059867) is an aquarium with over 60 displays of freshwater and marine life in Brindleyplace, Birmingham, England. Its one-million-litre ocean tank houses giant green sea turtles, blacktip reef sharks and tropical reef fish, with a fully transparent underwater tunnel. The building was designed by Sir Norman Foster.[1] However, Foster has effectively "buried" this project in his portfolio, and is reportedly embarrassed by the final building.[citation needed]


It is located alongside the Birmingham Canal Navigations Main Line Canal by Old Turn Junction and opposite the National Indoor Arena. It opened in spring 1996. In the Victorian era, the site was the location of two canal basins in Oozells Street Wharf.[2]


View across the junction of the Birmingham Canal Navigations and the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal.

The National Sea Life Centre has an extensive seahorse breeding programme, with many species of newly reared seahorses in tanks viewable by visitors.

In other displays, it has a giant Pacific octopus, as well as horseshoe crabs, green sea turtles, lobsters, sharks, sting rays, and otters.

In Easter 2009, the Centre announced as its newest attraction a "Sensorama 4-D Cinema". So-called because 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. Over Christmas the cinema showed the Polar Express in 4D and in 2011 the film was based on Happy Feet (2006 film)

By Easter 2010, Hammerhead Sharks made resident in the ocean tank.

The Penguin Ice Adventure habitat will be home to a colony of gentoo penguins when it is completed. It is scheduled to open in time for the Easter holidays in 2014.[3]


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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Matthew Carmona (2001). The Value of Urban Design: A Research Project Commissioned by CABE and DETR to Examine the Value Added by Good Urban Design. Thomas Telford. ISBN 0-7277-2981-0. 
  2. ^ 'Birmingham - Warwickshire: 013/08', Ordnance Survey 1:2,500 - Epoch 1 (1890). URL: Date accessed: 20 May 2008.
  3. ^ Young, Gary. "Penguin Ice Adventure set to be Sea Life Centre's new hot attraction". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 1 January 2014. 

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