London Aquarium

Me watching man watching Shark at London Aquarium

A post unrelated to music, what’s going on? Here is a review (sort of) of the London Aquarium.

I love aquariums, I’ve been to a few this year. Hastings aquarium, Brighton Sealife Centre, Boston Aquarium, New York Aquarium aaaaand most recently (today) London Aquarium. I like to think I know a bit about sealife centres and aqauriums. Last year I did 2 weeks work experience at Brighton Sealife Centre. I had a fantastic time.

Backstory: At Brighton Sealife Centre I was part of the ‘entertainments’ team, I helped customers, did a couple of rockpool talks, cleaned stuff, and fed animals. It was so much fun. The staff and guests were lovely. The Brighton Sealife Centre has this one room which is particularly impressive, it boasts a huge tank that holds thousands of litres of water, dozens of coral fish, 2 sea turtles and some sharks. At the end of my work experience I got to hand feed Lulu, their giant sea turtle. I also got to feed Dottie, the Zebra Shark, which was amazing. I got to stroke her face. She is seriously the cutest thing ever (go see her right now!). Because Zebra sharks have their teeth so far back in their mouth it’s perfectly safe to stroke their faces. While at the Sealife centre I learnt alot about the fish and especially the crabs (damn those evil Velvet crabs and their strong pincers). I also gained a huge amount of love for sea creatures.

Whiiiiich brings me up to today. I went to the London Aquarium, which is located about 5 minutes from Westminster tube station. It would have been too easy for me to get the tube, so I decided to walk all the way across London in the freezing cold to get there. I had to queue outside for about 10 minutes before I went in. A student ticket costed me ¬£10.25, they said it was reduced by a pound because some of their exhibits were ‘under construction’. It didn’t take me long to realise that pretty much the whole place could be classified as ‘under construction’.

Earlier today I learnt that London Aquarium has been acquisitioned by super group Merlin Entertainments, who own the ‘Sealife Centre’ brand. I think this could potentially be a very good thing, once the whole place is rebranded I think it will be much more spectacular than it currently is.

The aquarium had quite a few displays, but to be honest, the place looked like a dump. The displays were ugly, seemingly¬†little or no thought had been put into them. The lighting in the tanks could have been utilised much better, to make different areas of the aquarium more exciting. The giant tank was plain, there was just a rock in the shape of a face in the middle, the walls were bare and unattractive. The signs on the walls were old and dated and didn’t convey the interesting information in an easily accessible way. I figure these faults will all (hopefully) improve once the place is refurbished and rebranded. So, ugliness aside, I set about looking at the fish. There was no touch pool due to the redevelopment, which meant I only got to see one giant ray in the big tank. I hope they get some Undulate Rays before my next visit. No crabs either. No octopus. Only a few upside down jellyfish. I was pleased to see they had a Zebra shark, I enjoyed watching that for a while. They had a nice lionfish display which I enjoyed. The terrapin display was also popular. There were the obligatory clown fish/angel fish/little tropical fishes tanks. It took me an hour to walk round and look at everything. Feeling dissatisfied I walked around again for another hour. I would like to see some tropical frogs next time. There was a fun Stonefish exhibit, well it was fun for me. Stonefish are really good at camouflaging themselves (like stones) so it was fun trying to spot all four in the tank.

So to conclude, I would say wait a few months if you plan on visiting the London Aquarium. I had a good time because I like fish, but it could have been better. When I got to the end of the exhibit I heard one lady say “was that it?” I echoed her sentiment. However, for a central London attraction I thought it was quite reasonably priced. But for a big city aqaurium, London Aquarium can’t even hold a candle to the Boston or New York aquariums. Boston Aquarium is seriously amazing though, it had penguins and jellyfish and an absolutely massive tank that was really very impressive. I wish Boston aquarium was in walking distance. I think I would love to be the head of Marketing at the London Aquarium right now, it must be alot of fun rebranding a place.

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6 Responses to London Aquarium

  1. Alicia November 29, 2008 at 9:27 pm #

    I went to the London Aquarium in May, and was so disappointed to say the least.

  2. anikainlondon November 29, 2008 at 9:49 pm #

    That’s a shame. I think there’s so much potential to make the place really great. I wish I was in charge of the redevelopment! Then you’d like it! I’d get some interesting displays and change all of the boring signs they have up, get some new lighting in, have some interactive games and exhibits, some video screens playing informative videos, and I’d get a web designer to redesign their rubbish website! And I’d get them a decent cafe (that would rake the money in!). I’d also get some more staff in and around the place so you can learn about the animals more. AND I’d get some Seahorses in! I think that Merlin Entertainments will do alot to improve the place, I just hope they don’t make it too standardised.

  3. anikainlondon November 29, 2008 at 9:54 pm #

    Also, I think I might apply to volunteer there next year, they accept CVs from January 1st-12th, and they’ll let you work a 5.5hour day a week for 3 months. I rekon I could have a chance because I am enthusiastic and because of my work experience at Brighton Sealife Centre.

  4. canelvr May 9, 2009 at 11:55 am #

    Hi Anika! I went to the London aquarium not that long ago. Even though no longer under construction I still wasn’t that fussed on it!! I wrote about it here. Have you tried Plymouth?

  5. Molly August 2, 2010 at 11:39 am #

    hey anika,
    i read you article and i have to do work exp this year and i really wanted to do it in an aquarium, how did you get in touch.
    could you give me some tips on how to get in contact??

    thanks for the article!

    • anikainlondon August 2, 2010 at 11:41 am #

      Hi Molly,

      I did my work experience a few years ago now (blimey!) but I just found an email contact on the Sea Life Centre website and dropped them a line. I had to go in for an interview and then I did two weeks there.

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