Welcome to the latest in “My London” series.
One of my favourite London attractions is billed as a top family attraction. Whilst it is undeniably a great place for families (based on their family friendly attitude; accessibility, pram (aka stroller to my Americanised readers 😉 ) parking, parent & child facilities, education programmes), it undoubtedly has something for all ages! There is something so mesmerising about the sea and all its wonderful creatures, and SEA LIFE London Aquarium does a wonderful job showcasing the world’s sea life. The London Aquarium has Europe’s largest collection of global marine life. As a child, I dreamt of becoming a marine biologist. My love for the sea, nature and animals has stuck with me ever since, so it is no wonder that I am naturally inclined to like the London Aquarium 🙂
The London Aquarium is located on the South Bank of the River Thames, with beautiful views of the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and the London Eye. Standing outside the Aquarium entrance, you will wonder how they manage to fit everything they promised in. But once you enter the Aquarium you will walk through a series of corridors and staircases (or pram/wheelchair friendly elevators) and you will find yourself immersed (excuse the pun!) in an underground labyrinth (which always makes me think of London’s exciting world of underground tunnels – think War Time London)… or actually, do they take you upstairs and not downstairs? I don’t know… I guess you just become osmosed into this living, breathing, London attraction. 🙂 All jokes aside, you do feel like you may have genuinely travelled into the sea to begin your journey through the world’s waters. A marine history of the River Thames is also included.
The exhibitions are divided into 14 themed zones, with explanations of the wildlife (animals and foliage) on show. Some of the little fellas down there can be shy, so be sure to be patient and try not to scare the bejesus out of them. The London Aquarium is home to 500 different species, including sharks and crocodiles. It is impressive!
It really is difficult to fathom the physical size and depth of the London Aquarium. After all, more than 40 sharks of various shapes and sizes live in there. The Shark Reef Encounter is a very special and impressive display. You are given the opportunity to explore the reef from various points, including a glass walkway. This will feel like the sharks are swimming right below your feet… not for the faint hearted… or the galeophobic (fear of sharks)!
The Penguins: Ice Adventure is a wonderful new exhibition. The stars of the show are the adorable gentoo penguins. Once you are in the room with them, you will feel that you have been transported to the Antarctic. The penguins are hugely entertaining. It seems that they know that they are being watched, because they look through the glass and actively look around the crowd before them, and only once they feel they have everyone’s FULL attention, will they dive into the icy water for a swim. This is a magical exhibition. Actually, it made me think of the dancing penguins in Mary Poppins.
The London Aquarium is a wonderful attraction, but it is important to remember the work SEA LIFE does for our global marine life. SEA LIFE Conservation work hard to “protect our seas“. The displays at the Aquarium are there for both our pleasure and our education. Some of the creatures you see on display are in fact there for their protection and conservation, with breeding programmes either in place or in the pipeline. The Aquarium offers opportunities throughout the day for audience participation. I say this in jest as it isn’t entirely for entertainment purposes, but they are a fun bunch down there (or are they a few storeys above ground?? :S )! I recommend checking the website before your visit (click here), to note down the feeding times and talks. You get to learn so much, and have fun whilst you’re doing it; suitable for all ages, so don’t be shy 😉
Until next time folks!