Tag Archives: aquarium

Review: Christmas at SEA LIFE Manchester

Over the weekend we popped to the Trafford Centre to run a few pre-Christmas family errands. I sent my husband in to do battle with the hordes of shoppers and I took the small boy for a look around SEA LIFE Manchester, a calm oasis in a sea of Christmas chaos.

We arrived very early and we were the first people through the door. We had our Merlin passes scanned and we headed off to explore. We are regulars at SEA LIFE Manchester, and we always enjoy our visits. The boy loved being first in and it seemed like we had the place to ourselves (we didn’t, other people were a couple of minutes behind us).

Review: Christmas at SEA LIFE Manchester

We quickly sought out some of our favourite sea creatures. I love the jellyfish and we spent some time changing the coloured lights in their tank and seeing how different they looked in the different lights. I also love the stingrays, they glide so gracefully through the water, they’re really calming to watch. 

Review: Christmas at SEA LIFE Manchester

The boy is a big fan of the turtles, so we watched them swim in their tanks and learning more about them. He’s also very keen on seahorses and “Nemo fish”. Although he’s not keen on touching, we did spend quite a lot of time in the rockpool area. The staff were very helpful and told us all about the sea creatures which live in the tank. Some of which we might find in a rockpool in the UK.

Review: Christmas at SEA LIFE Manchester

We had a lovely explore of SEA LIFE Manchester, it felt so peaceful and it’s the perfect antidote to the busyness of Christmas. We’d spent an hour or so peacefully chatting about all of the creatures. We learned a little more about them and wondered what they’d be having for their Christmas dinner.

Review: Christmas at SEA LIFE Manchester

I can absolutely recommend SEA LIFE Manchester if you want to do something with your family this Christmas that isn’t full of flashing lights and fake snow. It was an absolutely delightful way to spend the morning.

What’s on at SEA LIFE Manchester this Christmas?

This Christmas at SEA LIFE Manchester, guests can take part in a festive fish hunt. Come face to fin with a Snow Flake Eel, Humbug Fish, Angel Fish, Star Fish and even a Turkey Fish! 

Excitingly, during the evenings of 17th, 18th, 22nd and 23rd December, visitors can see beautiful diving mermaids in the tropical ocean tank. The Mermaids will grace the water in a spectacular dive with the sharks and Ernie, the giant green sea turtle. 

Find out more about what’s on this Christmas on the SEA LIFE Manchester website.

I am a Merlin Annual Pass Blogger Ambassador. I was given a Merlin Annual Pass to do this review with my family.  I was not paid to write this post.

Review: Our visit to SEA LIFE Blackpool

Over the Bank Holiday weekend we decided to have a trip to SEA LIFE Blackpool. The sun was shining, we fancied some sea air and it’s only an hour away; so off we went. The boy was really excited, he loves SEA LIFE Manchester and we’d heard that SEA LIFE Blackpool was well worth visiting, especially if you’re gripped by Finding Dory fever! 

SEA LIFE Blackpool

When we got there we were offered the chance to go on a behind the scenes tour, it was an extra £3 each but I was really interested in “going backstage” so we booked our places (more of which later).

We were given a map, an activity trail sheet and pencil and a pair of rather fetching paper goggles to wear.

SEA LIFE Blackpool

SEA LIFE Blackpool is divided into lots of different zones, with different kinds of sea life in each area. We were most excited about the stingrays and the seahorses, but we knew there were lots of other things to explore. The zones at SEA LIFE Blackpool include the Rockpool (you can touch some of the creatures here), Atlantic Depths which has sea life including anemones, starfish, crabs, place, lobster and octopus. 

SEA LIFE Blackpool

I was very taken by the various different kinds of anemones, they were all so colourful, beautiful and delicate looking. I could happily spend hours looking at them all. 

Our next stop was the Quayside zone which was home to stingrays, rays, pollock, brill and dogfish. Stingrays are our favourite, so we spent quite a while watching them fly through the tank in the Stingray Adventure zone, it’s a mesmerising sight.

SEA LIFE Blackpool

Our next stop was a visit to our other favourites in the Kingdom of the Seahorse, a zone which is home to lion fish, unicorn fish, clown fish, regal tangs and of course, lots of seahorses (fun fact: my first pet was a pair of seahorses, one of which was called Ankle). Did you know that seahorses prefer to swim in pairs with their tails linked together? 

Moving on to the next zone – the Submarine Explorer to see creatures who usually live in the darker depths of the sea including jellyfish, puffa fish, eels and tangs. We loved the jellyfish. I’ve never really looked at them very closely before, but they had different coloured lights shining in the tanks so you could pick up the detail. They look like beautiful atomic clouds. 

SEA LIFE Blackpool

We passed through the Rainforest Adventure zone quite quickly, it was a busy area with people looking at the turtles, chameleons and frogs and we were starting to worry about missing our slot for the Behind the Scenes Tour. 

The next stop was the Shark Mission and Ocean Tunnel. Every SEA LIFE Centre has a tunnel to walk through and this one was full of sharks including black tip sharks, white tip sharks, bowmouth guitar sharks, shovel nose sharks, nurse sharks, stingrays and lots of other fish. We were lucky enough to have a shark come and have a rest next to us as we looked through the tunnel, The small boy was transfixed!

SEA LIFE Blackpool

The final zone is Jurassic Seas which has ancient creatures such as the nautilus and more beautiful anemones, we would like to have spent more time exploring this zone, but we were almost late for our tour.

We met Robbie who gave us the behind the scenes tour. We visited the breeding area, full of baby fish who are still too tiny to be out fending for themselves in the main tanks. We met some fish which had been donated to the centre because they’d grown too big and some jellyfish (which don’t have brains).

Robbie then showed us some “moults” which are the discarded shells of creatures who shed them as they grow, such as lobsters and crabs. He also showed us some sharks teeth. Sharks can grow new teeth within a day of losing one. 

SEA LIFE Blackpool

We met lots of creatures who were in quarantine, such as a very pretty blue spotted ribbon tail ray who had been donated to the centre. Apparently lots of people get rays for their aquariums at home, but they often sting their owners who then get rid of them, not always responsibly.

One of the most interesting creatures is the peacock mantis shrimp which has beautiful peacock colouring, but has to live in a special acrylic tank because he is so strong he can punch through glass and escape!

SEA LIFE Blackpool

I found the behind the scenes tour really fascinating and well worth the £3 extra, it’s really worth doing if you’re interested in the inner workings of SEA LIFE Blackpool and how they manage the environment in the tanks, as well as the quarantine and breeding programmes. 

Our visit to SEA LIFE Blackpool was incredibly interesting and we really enjoyed exploring the different zones. I am only sorry that we didn’t have longer to explore everywhere more thoroughly, but that is our fault, we should have booked a later tour. We will have to go back again and do it more thoroughly another time.

SEA LIFE Blackpool was fascinating and full of weird, wonderful and often beautiful creatures. I was enchanted by the jellyfish, anemones and all the colourful fish. It’s worth a visit to see those alone. 

For more information about visiting SEA LIFE Blackpool visit their website.

We are SEA LIFE and LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Ambassadors and we used our Merlin passes to gain entry.

Fishy Fact Finding at SEA LIFE Manchester

Recently one thousand families were put to the test at SEA LIFE Manchester to see how many of 10 fishy facts they were given during their visit they could remember.

Apparently the average score was only 5 correct questions out of 10,  with mums and dads out-performing their children by a narrow margin of just 2%.

During the summer school holidays, SEA LIFE are hosting Finding Dory trails and events at all their UK SEA LIFE centres. They thought it would be interesting to see how their visitors compare to Dory when it comes to remembering things.

Apparently the results were quite surprising, and seem to suggest that we can all can be a little forgetful from time to time.

Some of the simple facts and statistics that SEA LIFE Manchester visitors struggled to remember were:

  • There are seven species of sea turtle in the world’s oceans                        
  • The Emperor Penguin is the largest penguin
  • The most common octopus in UK waters is the Lesser Octopus

sea life

What is interesting about the survey is that the facts people remembered best were the ones about the harm humans are doing to our oceans and their inhabitants. Most could remember that an estimated 70 million sharks are being killed every year for their fins, or as bycatch for example.

It is encouraging that important conservation messages like this are filtering through and helping to raise awareness and support for marine conservation, something that popular films like Finding Dory will also help to do.

SEA LIFE’s themed event is running at the 12 UK centres until September 11th, and includes a trail inspired by Hank the cantankerous octopus – one of Finding Dory’s central characters.

For further information or to pre-book tickets online before your visit please go to www.visitsealife.com/manchester. Reduced prices are available for tickets booked in advance.

For regular news, updates and competitions, SEA LIFE Manchester is also on Facebook www.facebook.com/SEALIFEManchester and Twitter www.twitter.com/sealifemanc.

Half Term Fun at SEA LIFE Manchester

February half term is a tough one, the weather is unrelentingly gloomy, and I have no desire at all to stand shivering in the park afternoon after afternoon watching the boy hit muddy puddles with an equally muddy stick. The sensible thing to do is to plan a week of mainly indoor activities, where they can explore, have fun and maybe learn a little something too. SEA LIFE Manchester have launched a new attraction just in time for half term, so we went along to check out the new Octopus Hideout.

SEA LIFE Manchester

We’ve never been to SEA LIFE Manchester before, the small boy loves an aquarium, so he was very much looking forward to his visit. We were in for a real treat, the layout and design of the centre has been incredibly well thought out, with atmospheric lighting and mood music playing throughout, as well as lots of interactive displays so you don’t just feel like you’re looking at things, you’re getting involved too.

We were wowed by the range of aquatic life they’d managed to fit into the aquarium, with sharks, turtles and rays swimming about, as well as more fish than we dared to count. There were weird and wonderful species of fish, most of which were imaginatively displayed in shaped tanks, some of which you could walk under, peep into through portholes, or just stand in awe at the underwater scene in front of you. 

SEA LIFE Manchester

The Octopus Hideout is a brand new attraction which was launched just in time for this half term, we met up with Dan the curator who was able to tell us more about the creatures in the new Octopus Hideout. Although technically we were looking at more than just octopus, we were looking at cephalopods.

Cephalopods include octopus, squid, cuttlefish and nautilus, they can change colour, texture and body shape to blend into their surroundings, and if threatened they can squirt a cloud of ink as a smokescreen or decoy. Cephalopods have three hearts and blue blood, and they are thought to be among the most intelligent creatures in the ocean.

We met the Nautilus, a slightly weird looking cephalopod with a hard shell. It can alter its buoyancy by filling its chambers with water. They were quite hypnotic to look at, pulsating and bobbing up and down in the water. Nautilus is an ancient creature which has been around for more than 500 million years. We also met the Common Octopus (called Octopus Prime), as well as the tiny Atlantic Long Arm Octopus and Cuttlefish. 

SEA LIFE Manchester

Hank the Giant Pacific Octopus, Photo courtesy of SEA LIFE Manchester

Dan showed us Hank the Giant Pacific Octopus, he explained that octopus were nocturnal and Hank, like me, isn’t great in the mornings. Hank was pretty big, but was fast asleep on a rock, having disguised himself as a rock, so he was grey. Dan told us when they fed him earlier (he enjoys a crab three times a week) he was bright red. Hank was fascinating and we learned a great deal about this mysterious creature.

We took our time looking around everything, paused mid way to let off some steam in the soft play room half way around, had a funny photograph taken, touched a starfish or two and learned all about life under the sea. It beats shivering in the park any day!

To find out more about the Octopus Hideout and to book tickets for this half term and beyond, visit the SEA LIFE Manchester website.

Note: We were invited guests of SEA LIFE Manchester. All opinions are our own.