Behind the Scenes Tours
A new Behind the Scenes Tour at the SEA LIFE London Aquarium exposes the attraction’s inner workings and whisks guests “behind the glass” to discover what it takes to keep one of Europe’s biggest aquariums running smoothly.
Touring the areas where the dedicated aquarists actually work, there is plenty of hands on interaction and Q&As along the way.
The forty minute tour takes guests through the three main areas at the heart of the SEA LIFE London Aquarium – Creature Care and Research, Food Preparation and Water Management.
Housed deep in the cavernous County Hall building on the banks of the Thames and only an 8m brick wall separates the working space from the River Thames.
Behind the Scenes Tours are now available to book online.
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Here's some more detail about the areas the tour will cover:
Creature Care and Research
First stop on the tour is the Creature Care and Research department, where the team looks after animals not currently residing in the attraction. These could be new arrivals who are getting acclimatised before settling in to their permanent homes, creatures who need a temporary base whilst displays are being renovated or cleaned or those in need of medical treatment.
Guests will also get a first-hand insight into any research and breeding work happening from rearing unusual fish like Butterfly and Blackface Blennys to populating coral or SEA LIFE’s pioneering seahorse breeding activities, which have been hugely successful.
The team is currently hosting a study to discover if diet might increase the neonatal survival rates of this fragile species. Plus there’s the Rock Pool Resting Area where the creatures not “working” in the attraction’s touch pools rest up between “shifts”.
Guests will see pumps and pipes running all over the place and they are the key to running the Aquarium. With over 2.5 million litres filling 65 displays populated by 100kg of coral, 30 types of plants and thousands of sea creatures from over 500 species water is quite literally the lifeblood of the SEA LIFE London Aquarium.
Around 20 systems and 100 pumps keep everything working as it should. A problem with water quality could have severe consequences so the aquarists oversee a complex water management and filtration system that must be closely monitored daily. Guests will get a unique peak at this sophisticated system and help out with quality checks, plus test your knowledge – how much salt is added to one bucket of water to make ‘sea water’.
The aquarists prepare over 50kgs worth of food for their charges every week, feeding over 5000 creatures every day. There is a wide variety of seafood on the menu from squid and mackerel favoured by the sharks to krill and herring which is eagerly devoured by the Gentoo Penguins. Mice and baby chicks are the staple diet of a pair of rare Cuban crocodiles whilst a mix of dried and live insects are fed regularly to the fifteen strong group of tiny poison arrow frogs.
Guests are encouraged not just to “see” behind the scenes but to step right into the action as the areas they tour are where the work actually happens. They will get the chance to join in with quizzes, see tiny artemia through the microscope and as questions of the aquarists about any aspect of what their work, or anything they want to know about the aquarium or its residents.
Marine Biologist for the day
And for those who want to get even more involved behind the scenes, the SEA LIE London Aquairum also operates a more in-depth Marine Biologist for a Day Programme which gives participants the chance to work alongside the expert aquarist team for a full day.
They will enjoy a whole host of activities including: food preparation, feeding and rock pool duty– where fledgling aquarists have to check all the conditions are suitable for the rock pool animals like crabs and starfish. There is also a chance to join in a shark feed and will come “face to fin” with a whole variety of amazing sea-life. On completion, participants receive a certificate, a souvenir photo and adoption papers for a sea creature of their choice.
The Marine Biologist Programme is available year round at £195, for more information, please contact us.