Located on London’s south bank across the Thames from the Parliament buildings and in the old county hall you’ll find London’s Sea Life Aquarium. Home to around 500 species, London’s Sea Life Aquarium is a pleasant way to escape the rain and enjoy the beautiful world of life in the sea. In the shadow of the London Eye you enter into a dark hallway across a crystal clear glass walkway leading you over sharks swimming below. The aquarium is expertly laid out over 14 themed zones covering everything from life in the Thames River to the waters of the Antarctic. All the zones hold something special and each has their own message of conservation with ways you can help save endangered sea life and its habitats. But here are my top 5 exhibits of London’s Sea Life Aquarium.
Top 5 Exhibits & How You Can Help
There is something breathtakingly magical about watching rays fly through the water, they’re so graceful and sleek you can’t help but be impressed. Rays and skates (a member of the ray family) can be found in a few different tanks and you might even see their cool eggs! In the Rays exhibit you learn all about rays and how they’ve evolved from sharks over 150 million years ago and also of some of the endangered species. One of these is the undulated ray that lives off the coast of the UK and is endangered due to over fishing. Sea Life London runs a breeding program for 13 endangered species of ray and offer advice on how you can help by not eating endangered ray species.
In the Tropical Rainforest of Sea Life you’ll meet a few terrapin (turtle) species, most of which will probably be basking in the heat, a chillin’ Cuban croc, a variety of poison dart frog species and even piranhas. Did you know that not all piranhas are carnivorous? One of my favourite parts about visiting aquariums and zoos is discovering new species, like the leaf fish (shown above), beautiful with its cryptic camouflage. Rainforests are amazing for their stunning scenery, rich wildlife and for all the natural medicines that can be found within. Astonishingly, rainforests are home to around half of all the species on Earth! But sadly, due to the ever increasing demand for natural resources as well as land for agriculture we are losing an area the larger than the size of England every year and if these poor practices continue by 2060 there will be no rainforest left! But there is hope! You can help slow this down by purchasing Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood and paper products.
Who doesn’t love these crazy little creatures with skin instead of scales and where the males give birth to the young?! In Sea Life’s Seahorse Temple you’ll meet pipefish, who dance for hours together while breeding, adult and juvenile seahorses and the leafy looking seadragons. The aquarium has been successful in breeding 5 species of seahorse and pipefish. But truth be told, 150 million seahorses are caught every year and killed for traditional medicine, this along with pollution and the illegal pet trade, seahorse could be at a risk for extinction if we don’t stop harmful practices.
Coral reefs can be found across the Earth and are the largest living structure on the planet. In Sea Life’s Nemo’s Kingdom you’ll discover a plethora of colourful fish from the clown fish, weaving its way through anemones, to various species of tang and of course stunning coral reefs of which they breed to help get a better understanding of it and learn how they can better protect it. Threats to coral reefs include global warming, pollution and destructive fishing methods. When these brilliantly coloured corals die they bleach to white, but you can do your part by not touching it or disrupting it when you go snorkeling and never by products made from coral. Another thing to keep in mind for those who have hobby aquariums is to be aware of where your pet fish are being obtained from, making sure not to purchase fish from the illegal pet fish trade.
By far my most favourite and the most dramatic exhibit at Sea Life London is the Dive Discovery. Home to two main tanks with various viewpoints from the bottom to the tops and even a tunnel to walk beneath amazing creatures like sharks, rays and even sea turtles, the Dive Discovery will leave you breathless. Here you’ll meet numerous shark species from the small bonnet head to the large sand tiger shark with its mouth full of jagged teeth, two darling green sea turtles and even a humphead wrasse! But don’t leave without making a mental note of joining Sea Life and Shark Trust in the campaign to stop unsustainable shark fishing in European waters.
Have you been the London’s Sea Life Aquarium? What’s your favourite exhibit?