CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Devon Life today CLICK HERE

We went behind the scenes of the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth

PUBLISHED: 17:00 14 August 2017

There is so much to see on a day at the aquarium

There is so much to see on a day at the aquarium

Archant

Devon Life’s Lydia Tewkesbury was invited to take a VIP tour of the National Marine Aquarium. This is what she found...

Go on a VIP behind the scenes tour at Plymouth aquariumGo on a VIP behind the scenes tour at Plymouth aquarium

On arrival, we were taken past the Plymouth Sound exhibit, through double doors and into the previously unknown back-of-house area. As I have been going to the aquarium since my childhood, the opportunity to see behind the scenes was incredibly exciting, and our knowledgeable and clearly passionate host Oleta, made the experience everything I hoped it would be. I also got to wear a blue vest declaring my VIP status – an added bonus.

We commenced what Oleta referred to as our whistle stop tour right away. As the largest aquarium in the UK and home to around 4,000 fish, it is of course not possible to see everything, but by the end of our time, I had a much greater insight into how life at the aquarium functions day-to-day. I learned that many of its dedicated staff work on Christmas day, giving the fish some well-deserved Christmas dinner before they tuck into their own.

Sting rays glide through the tanksSting rays glide through the tanks

After stepping into an anti-bacterial foot bath and liberally applying hand sanitiser, I found myself ushered into the depths of the aquarium and taken to the lab - the space used for treating minor and some more major fish ailments, and, in some cases, conducting autopsies. I saw incredible photographs of procedures I had never even considered could be done for fish, like a successful caesarean performed on a sting ray whose unborn baby had sadly died. I was able to learn about the innovative approach to medical care of fish at the aquarium, and perhaps most interesting of all, how they catch them to treat them in the first place.

When new fish first arrive at the aquarium, they live in quarantine for a few weeks so they can acclimatise to their new environment and be checked and treated for any potentially harmful diseases, and during this time they are trained to respond to certain cues. They are taught – and this amazed me – to swim up to markers put into the water to receive medicine, food and, when they are very sick, to be caught and taken to the vet. Plymouth is one of the only aquariums doing this, and with a massive stroke of luck, during my tour I was able to see the training in action with three new sting rays that had recently come to Plymouth from Living Coasts in Torquay.

This was one of many highlights in an excellent tour. The feed room (though very smelly), was fascinating and our guide produced menus for various creatures living in the tanks, including Friday the turtle, so I could get an idea of how much certain species eat (less than I thought.). We were also invited into the jelly fish breeding lab and taught about the water purification process – with over 2 millions tons of water in the shark tank alone, it’s more interesting than you might think – among other fantastic experiences.

Visit the aquarium’s website for more information.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Devon Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Devon Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Devon Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Devon is particularly stunning at this time of year and so we’ve picked out 18 stunning pictures that encapsulate the county during the festive period

Read more
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

From cosy pubs galore to winter beach walks, there’s plenty to enjoy in Devon at Christmas. We list 19 reasons you should come visit us this December.

Read more
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Devon is a joy to explore with its beautiful beaches, pretty woodland and charming towns and villages. Made even more magical under a blanket of glistening frost, we pick 12 walks to blow away the cobwebs in the county this winter

Read more
Tuesday, November 27, 2018

A South Devon walk along a wreck-rich coastline with SIMONE STANBROOK-BYRNE

Read more
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

In the latest of our 24-hour tours of Devon’s best locations, we head to Britain’s Ocean City

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

With breathtaking beaches, rolling countryside, stately homes and unique villages, it’s no wonder high-profile film productions flock to Devon - how well do you know the movies that have set up camp here however?

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Whether it’s on our beautiful beaches, in our magnificent moors or within our stunning stately homes, film productions are constantly setting up in Devon. Here are 16 that you might not know used the county as a filming location

Read more
Friday, October 26, 2018

From angry spirits to headless horses and ghoulish monks, Devon has more than a few supernatural stories to get your skin crawling. We have picked 11 haunted places in the county

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

October is the perfect time to discover the joys of Exmoor. Jennette Baxter of Visit Exmoor suggests five great ways to enjoy autumn on the moor

Read more
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Wild camping can be one of the best ways to escape the crowds for a night or two and lose yourself in the landscape - SOPHIE PAVELLE chooses her five favourite places to ‘wild-life’ camp in Devon

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

From sandy beaches and lighthouse-topped cliffs to views of the Jurassic Coast, the Devon coastline offers many perfect locations for a seaside walk. We pick 10 of the prettiest routes to take

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Take our quiz to find out how well you really know Devon

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

As the weather starts to warm up and the Devon countryside beckons, LIZZIE JANE of the National Trust in the South West offers plenty of walk ideas for you to try. Whether you want a relaxed Sunday stroll or a more strenuous hike, here are 10 walks across Devon (and beyond) to help you escape the crowds and head off the beaten track

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The South West Coast Path is celebrating 40 years by calling on people to help raise £40,000. To show their support, teams from Devon’s top tourist attractions are preparing to take to the trail. CHRISSY HARRIS finds out more

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy



Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search