A new survey from SEA LIFE London Aquarium reveals that UK children hold some fascinating and fantastical beliefs about marine life, with a healthy confidence that mermaids and sea monsters do exist, penguins can fly and a fish finger is NOT a breaded food product but a real fish. The poll, which questioned 1,000 children aged 4-8 nationally was conducted to coincide with the launch of a new Sea Dragon Kingdom feature at the attraction and showed that one in ten children believe the delicate four inch creatures are in fact the size of a house!
Moreover, 15% of London children questioned thought sea dragons are forest dwelling beasts and 17% that they could breathe fire! 96% of all children questioned actually didn’t realise that sea dragons were real creatures at all – an opinion the attraction hopes to change with the launch of the magical new zone. But there is, however, a strong belief in mythical creatures. 10% of the kids thought mermaids and the Loch Ness monster were real, with belief in Nessie rising to 25% when Scottish children were questioned. Worryingly, one in ten children surveyed thought that a fish finger was a real species of fish, one in twenty thought penguins could fly and almost a third didn't realise that a penguin was a bird at all – believing them instead to be fish or mammals.
“The findings of this poll really raised some smiles - who doesn’t want to believe in mermaids?” commented Rebecca Carter, Conservation and Education Manager at the SEA LIFE London Aquarium. “But it does also show some basic lack of understanding about the marine life on our own shores, with one in 12 of the kids thinking tropical fish swim around Britain and 68% not realising that some shark species are a common sight along our coasts. Almost 90% don’t know rays swim in UK waters either, and one particularly imaginative youngster thought sharks eat fish fingers, chips and beans!”
There were however encouraging signs for shark conservationists as 84% of children questioned understand that humans are NOT sharks’ favourite food. “We were really encouraged that the next generation are not all falling for the misconception that sharks are evil man-eaters,” Carter commented. “However, clearly when it comes to sea dragons and also especially British marine life, there is more work to be done. We will be focusing on these areas over the next few months to ensure that the inquisitive children that visit the SEA LIFE London Aquarium leave with a better understanding of the marine environment.”
The brand new Sea Dragon Kingdom area opens on March 29 where kids will learn all about these fascinating creatures, closely followed by a new Thames Walk area coming to the South Bank attraction in May half term. Here, kids can learn all about animals that can be found in the Thames and join in with a week celebrating the creatures that live in British waters.