SEA LIFE is the World’s oldest operating aquarium
Splash down! W
ith SEA LIFE Brighton due to open again in May 2012, Brighton
Visitor catches up with general manager Max Leviston to find out what we can expect.
BV: What was the reason why the Sea Life closed for 6 months?
Max: Being the world’s
oldest aquarium is not without its problems, but this is made more challenging by being underground as well. The building is being attacked from all angles: water evaporating from the display tanks and trying to escape as well as water from the outside trying to get in through the walls and ceilings. Most of the Victorian structure dating from 1872 is
NEW EXHIBITS & ATTRACTIONS
JELLY DISCO Unlike most other marine creatures, and despite their stunning beauty and great variety, jellyfish are rarely given the attention they deserve. Now you can marvel at their infinite colors, graceful motion and ghost-like forms in a spellbinding spectacle that reveals their mysterious lives and world in a totally new light.
BEHIND-THE-SCENES TOUR See first hand how we care for over 1,500 sea creatures with an exclusive ‘Behind The Scenes tour!’ This interactive experience will immerse you into our working world where you will be shown how life support, filtration and water quality systems work, how food is
prepared for the animals, plus breeding and research areas. *An additional charge applies for the Behind-the-Scenes Tour
still in perfect condition, but the concrete that was added to the building in 1927 when the building was extended has now needed reinforcing. The reason why we closed is this work required the removal of the fish and therefore we needed to close because an aquarium without fish is not the best visitor experience!
BV: How are you bringing the
aquarium into the 21st Century? Max: The simple answer is
we’re not! In fact we have gently restored much of the structure back to its Victorian splendour and are trying to turn back the clock, not turn it forward. The Victorian architecture is stunning and we have a responsibility to the building to preserve and highlight
its integrity. We have used 21st Century technology to do this through the use of LED lighting and digital displays.
BV: What new and exciting
attractions can we expect? Max: We have a brand new
admissions area which will help speed up entry and reduce queues, especially if you’ve booked your ticket in advance. Our schools, groups and birthday parties will benefit from new education facilities; we have new toilets with three times more facilities than we catered for previously and a refurbished shop displaying lots of SEA LIFE souvenirs. We also have a brand new concept which our fish keepers will be very excited by. You can now experience our Behind-the-Scenes areas, where we prepare the dietary requirements for all the animals, take water samples, breed hundreds of new creatures and carry out non-invasive research. Finally, just before the exit, we have introduced a new display area which will immerse you in the world of jelly fish!
BV: Where have the fish been
looked after whilst all the work has been going on?
Following nearly six months of refurbishment works, Brighton’s SEA LIFE aquarium prepares to re-open its doors...
Max: Most of the fish we
have relocated into temporary displays in areas of the building that have not been affected by the building works. We have sent some creatures to Great Yarmouth, Weymouth, Chessington and as far away as Oban on the west coast of Scotland. It takes about 4 weeks to mature the fish displays before we can add any creatures and this will ensure we have the correct water qualities providing the very best habitat when they all return.
BV: When will you re-open so we can see for ourselves?
Max: We are confident that the grand launch will be on 13 May. This month is symbolic for 3 reasons, firstly it was the month the aquarium was first opened 140 years ago, it was the month that the aquarium first became a SEA LIFE and it’s also my birthday! We are expecting to have a record breaking end to 2012 with all the new SEA LIFE experiences, Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the Olympics, so we strongly advise you book your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment.
SEA LIFE re-opens on 13 May 2012 | SEA LIFE, Marine Parade, Brighton, BN2 1TB | 01273 604 234 | www.visitsealife.com/brighton
Photos by Julia Claxton
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