While we were visiting Northern Ireland recently we made a trip to see Exploris Aquarium.…
We revisited the Blue Reef Aquarium, Tynemouth in November, it has been many years since we went. When my son was small he attended parties there and we visited a couple of times. Since then the aquarium has expanded to include an Amazon section with reptiles and monkeys. I was looking forward to seeing how it had changed. The Blue Reef Aquarium is situated on the seafront on Grand Parade, Tynemouth. It is easy to find and there is plenty of parking outside. The car park is pay and display so you need to pay.
Some time ago we visited Exploris aquarium in Portaferry, Northern Ireland. That aquarium showcased the fish and wildlife local to Strangford loch which it is situated opposite. The Blue Reef aquarium is different, as it showcases fish and wildlife from all around the world.
Before you go
It is a good idea to check online before you go. Tickets can be purchased online up to two hours before your visit and they are cheaper than purchasing at the desk. You can also check online for the times of the shows and feeding times, allow you to plan you visit around these. There are various activities though out the day, from monkey feeding time, to the seal show and the rock pool encounter. Seeing at least one of these will make your visit more interesting. The Blue Reef Aquarium is open every day from 10am, except for Christmas day.
Junior (3-12): £8 under 3 is free
Seniors and Students: £9
Family of four (2 adults and 2 juniors) £33.50
The aquarium is a short walk from the car park. Entry is past the admission desk, where you can purchase tickets. There is also a gift shop with a wide range of ocean based merchandise at varying prices. If you are hungry there is a cafe so you can stop for a bite to eat. At the desk you get a map of the aquarium and the times of the shows so you can get there in time.
Inside the Blue Reef Aquarium
There is a wide range of sea life to view at the Blue Reef Aquarium. The displays take you on an undersea tour from the British coastline to faraway tropical reefs. Brightly coloured and exotic looking tropical fish swim past. Watching them is restful.
Each of the displays gives information about the fish inside, where you find them and a little about their behaviour which is interesting. As well as the exotic fish there are also the more familiar local fish. One of the main displays is a large ocean tank, with an underground walk though tunnel. Shark and rays swim overhead making you feel as if you are under the ocean. There are close encounters with crabs and crayfish.
There is also a range of exotic animals. You will find gorgeous Cotton-top Tamarin monkeys, who were too fast to get a decent photo. They are an endangered monkey species from the South American rainforest.
Continuing the rainforest theme Green Iguanas lazed around, looking like something from a prehistory. They look old and wise, as if they could tell loads of secrets.
There are plenty of other creatures to find but one of my favourites are the otters. These playful and inquisitive creatures frolic around happily, oblivious to you passing by.
We missed most of the shows but did managed to catch the seal show. This is in a large tank, situated at the back of the aquarium. The tank holds seals and sea lions, who have their own show later in the day.
Don’t stand too close to the glass as you are likely to get splashed as the seals jump out of the water. The show is really interesting and educational. As well as learning about the different types of seals found in Britain, you learn about their behaviour and habits. The seals perform tricks, but you also learn why they do these things in the wild.
As well as being a place to visit and learn about sea life the Blue Reef Aquarium is also a Marine Rescue Centre. They rescue and care for sick and abandoned seal pups as well as other marine wildlife. It is well worth a visit to the Blue Reef Aquarium. Walking around will not take that long so do plan your visit so you get to see a couple of the shows. I was very impressed with how much it had changed since I visited last time and look forward to going back again in the future. After our visit we drove along the coastline and stopped at Whitley Bay lighthouse. It is always pleasant to spend a day at the coast and even in November the views were stunning.