With my excited mini-journos in tow during the school half term hols, we arrived at the National Sea Life Centre Birmingham at 10.30am. There was no queue, but it was already pretty busy inside. Everyone was on a go-slow as they followed the path throughout the centre, but that is the optimum way to view all the displays, otherwise you would miss so much!
The attraction boasts more than 60 displays with over 1,000 creatures including seahorses, penguins, otters, sharks, rays and a giant turtle
The kids were handed a Dive Zone booklet which kept them focussed on a fact-finding mission throughout the trip, collecting stamps at the various stations when they found out the answers to different questions. (At the end of our trip, we claimed their medals on completion from the gift shop.)
It was much bigger and better than I’d remembered, with the welcome additions of the penguins and otters. I am always sceptical about the space and environment of wildlife in captivity and I did feel that the enclosures could have been bigger. The viewing ‘bubbles’ were rather deceptive, making the aquariums appear larger than they really were. However, I was pleased to see how much success they have had with various conservation projects; rescuing, breeding, re-homing and campaigning. Mind you, what zoo, aquarium or other wildlife attraction could get away with not having a conservation angle to it these days? Quite right too (so says the animal-loving veggie hippy chick!)
My favourite creature? It had to be the stingrays. They were hilarious; such characters the way they shimmy out of the water with their ‘noses’ in the air. They look like they are smiling and enjoying entertaining their audience and we were all laughing out loud (lol) at their ‘performance’.
Ruby-Lou (age 4): “I loved it when the penguins swam really close to us. I liked looking through all the bubbles so I could get close to all the creatures! It made me sad when it said that some of the creatures were really rare.”
Georgina (age 11): “It’s a really cool place! It’s not every day that you can stroke a starfish and a sea anemone! It was amazing walking through the tunnel seeing sharks and giant sea turtles! It’s made me realise how endangered all these species are and how much we humans can do to save them.”
The negatives were that I felt like I was in a queue the entire way round the centre! It was a little claustrophobic, so that after a couple of hours we needed to ‘come up for air’ or step into some open space, which meant that we didn’t stay to watch the 4D film.
I think the centre would also benefit from an interactive feature such as a computer game or other tactile activities similar to those at the Think Tank.
All in all, we enjoyed a lovely few hours in a fascinating and educating environment. We would all recommend Birmingham’s Sealife Centre.
Now I know I’m going off on a bit of a tangent here, but does anyone remember ‘Sea-Monkeys’?! What a hyped-up swizz they were!
To plan your own day out at the National Sea Life Centre Birmingham visit the website.