Until I was a teenager I had never left the country. My parents preferred to take my sister and I on stay-cations around the UK which you might think sounds a bit boring, but in fact these holidays make up some of my best memories from my childhood. We pretty much covered all of England and parts of Wales and Scotland too. I always loved going to the seaside as you could usually count on there being a Sealife Centre, one of my favourite attractions, nearby.
I am happy to say that I still get a lot of enjoyment from visiting Sealife Centres, although I haven’t been to one in some time, so when my husband and I spent a long weekend in Brighton recently we decided to pop along to see what magical underwater creatures were there. We sneakily booked our tickets online the evening before (to get a discount) and decided to pay a little extra for a special behind the scenes tour on top of the normal experience.
Situated right on the sea-front next to Brighton’s iconic pier, Brighton’s Sealife Centre is the world’s oldest operating aquarium! It has a number of different zones to explore including the Victorian Arcade, The Kingdom of the Seahorse, the Rainforest Adventure, the Ocean Tunnel and the newest exhibit Jurassic Seas.
I have to say that I was not disappointed. Brighton Sealife Centre hosts an amazing array of aquatic creatures; not only fish but crustaceans, amphibians and reptiles in all shapes, colours and sizes! Sadly most of the species represented are on the endangered list or have been rescued and cannot be released into the wild. The good news is that some have also been bred as part of the conservation projects.
The behind the scenes tour included seeing where the food is prepared, where they keep an eye on the water chemical levels and the breeding centre. It was great to get some more information on how the creatures are cared for.
I really enjoyed going around the Jurassic Seas exhibit which is new to the Sealife Centre and includes information about sea monsters from the Jurassic period. You also get to see some present day creatures who are not so evolutionary far from their Jurassic ancestors including mudskippers and horse shoe crabs who really look like they have just crawled out of the TARDIS!
I couldn’t quite believe it when we saw the impressive Anaconda enjoying a soak in her enclosure! I don’t think I have ever seen an aquatic snake at a Sealife Centre before. My husband enjoyed tickling the starfish in the interactive rock pool. My favourites include the dazzling rays, spotty dogfish, clown fish, the longhorned cowfishand colourful stripy frogs.
Of course the Ocean Tunnel really was something else. A huge enclosure housing a number of large sharks, turtles, various fish and one giant ray who was just stunning! It really felt like I was underwater with these amazing, majestic creatures who swam so close over our heads!
I really enjoyed our visit to the Brighton Sealife Centre; seeing and learning about the different fascinating species and of course re-visiting a childhood favourite. I certainly recommend a visit for anyone who loves getting up close with aquatic creatures.