Last Friday Athena and Arlo had an underwater adventure at Brighton’s Sealife Centre. It’s somewhere that I’d been before but not for a long time, and quite often it was for networking events in my old job (wonderful to walk round with a glass of wine but just as lovely with two small excited children and their Nan!) and a lot had changed too.We arrived just after it opened at 10am, which was good timing as it wasn’t too busy, we were there for a couple of hours and it was starting to get much busier by the time we were leaving, but it was in the half term holidays so that was to be expected.
Brighton Sealife Centre is the oldest aquarium in the world still operating, and there is a lot to do and something to suit all ages. For my two children at 1 and 3 years old they really just wanted to look at fish and sea creatures. My mum and I however were interested in the exhibitions and reading the accompanying info, so its really suitable for all ages!
There was a Mister Maker challenge going on, where you visited stands around the centre to collect the craft bits you needed to make your own little crab, which we did during lunch but then Athena promptly dropped it out of the buggy somewhere! One of the things that Athena loved was a hands-on rock pool exhibit where you can touch sea anemones and star fish, although it took her a while to get up the courage to get her hands in the water at first to stroke them! The Sealife centre offers live feeding and talks at intervals throughout the day (the times for these are listed on the website so you can plan your visit around them) but I didn’t think Athena would sit still for long enough so we left these for when she’s got a better attention span! There is also the UK’s first glass bottom boat that floats out over the largest tank in the centre. Your ticket is valid for the whole day, so as long as you have your hand stamped you can come and go as you please!
My personal favourite was the Kingdom of the Seahorses, I think I could watch them for hours, peacefully gliding around in their underwater worlds, plus I love that the men do all the pregnancy legwork! Athena loved the huge turtle and the sharks in the underwater tunnel, she was completely awestruck as they swam overhead! Arlo seemed quite enamoured by the turtles, there was a round column tank of them in the main hall and it took us ages to persuade him to crawl away and look at other things! He did really like the rainforest adventure section too, there were little tunnels for him to crawl into the get a better a look at the snakes and other creepy crawlies! For an extra fee you can also book a behind the scenes tour to see how the centre works!
A current exhibition shows all about how what we put into the water affects sealife, it was really eye opening! There is also a cafe and gift shop on site, so you can stop half way and have a breather or enjoy lunch overlooking the rays floating around. From an aesthetic point of view the Victorian architecture is really lovely, and has been sympathetically restored where needed, with amazing rainbow lights in the arches, it really is magical! Max Leviston, General Manager of Sea Life Brighton commented: “Marine conservation is important every day of the year – but we would like to encourage everyone to commit to a small change that will have a huge impact this World Oceans Day. Simple decisions like choosing line-caught tuna, or reusing plastic bags will make a real difference to our oceans and marine life.
“At Sea Life Brighton, we are proud to share such a strong conservation message with our visitors. The oceans are full of complex eco-systems and stunning creatures – we must do everything within our power to protect that and keep our oceans flourishing for generations to come.”
Sea Life Brighton is continually committed to promoting the Sea Life ‘Breed, Rescue and Protect’ ethos, and the conservation campaigns of its affiliated charity the Sea Life Trust.
The Sealife Centre is located just next door to the Pier, and has won the Brighton & Hove Business Awards ‘Best place to visit’two years in a row now, and it’s open every day but Christmas day, and would make a perfect rainy day trip!
We were invited along to experience the Sealife centre, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.