SEA LIFE London Aquarium
Located on the popular South bank of the River Thames, within the historic County Hall building, SEA LIFE London
Aquarium is home to one of Europe’s
largest collections of global marine life and the jewel in the crown of the UK SEA LIFE attractions.
A major new feature is now open at SEA LIFE London Aquarium – Shark Reef Encounter – a major NEW guest experience starring 16 awesome sharks!
In celebration of one of nature’s most magnificent but misunderstood creatures, guests start their journey with a walk on the wild side across the new, extended Shark walk.
This glass walkway literally allows them to walk above a stunning shoal of sixteen sharks, including two striking 2.8meter brown sharks and a group of 10 sleek black tip reef sharks, as they swim inches beneath.
Next stop, get to come face-to-fin with these awe-inspiring creatures in their magnificent pacific display, spanning three floors and dominated by a selection of imposing Easter Island Heads.
Finally, get ready for some shark myth-busting in the interactive Shark Academy with lots of touchy feelll-ly learning – from touching surprisingly sharp shark skin to finding out why coconuts can be more deadly than sharks.
What is your favorite sea creature?
The awesome Sharks, the huge Stingray or perhaps it’s the graceful Turtles you love the most?
Are you a Hammerhead Shark lover? Perhaps it’s the Clownfish or the clever Common Octopus that you love the most. Maybe it’s the friendly Gentoo Penguins?
…Maybe you simply can’t decide!
Here at SEA LIFE you can make up your mind and see them all – from the curious and the rescued to the rare and the enigmatic. And you’ll be able to get closer to them than ever before.
Many of the creatures here are on the endangered list, have been rescued and cannot be released into the wild or have been born and bred as part of our conservation projects.
All of them are beautiful.
Come and meet them.
Let’s get to know the aquariums’ most popular residents a little better!
The earliest known sharks date from more than 420 million years ago.
There are now over 440 species of shark known ranging in size from the small Dwarf Lantern Shark, a deep sea species of only 17 centimeters in length, to the Whale Shark which reaches approximately 12 meters!
Sharks are cartilaginous fish, which means their skeletons are made from cartilage and connective tissue and no bones, which makes them very flexible for swimming.
Sharks are found in all seas and are common down to depths of 2,000 meters. They generally do not live in freshwater, with a few exceptions.
Sharks breathe through five to seven gill slits and several sets of replaceable teeth! They might even lose up to 30,000 in their lifetime!
Sharks have a covering of dermal denticles that protects their skin from damage and parasites, and improves their fluid dynamics so the shark can move faster.
Well-known species such as the great white shark, tiger shark, blue shark, mako shark, and the hammerhead are apex predators, at the top of the underwater food chain. Their extraordinary skills as predators fascinate and frighten humans, even as their survival is under serious threat from fishing and other human activities.
Snorkelling with Sharks
Now you can come face to fin with some of the most amazing creatures of the deep as you snorkel among an array of sharks in SEA LIFE London Aquarium’s dramatic Pacific Reef display!
This fantastic package includes priority admission to SEA LIFE London Aquarium, a Behind the Scenes Tour, plus your snorkel and all equipment and training!
The experience lasts a total of one hour and 30 minutes, and absolutely no diving experience – but you do need to be able to swim, of course!
Come and visit the Aquariums friendliest residents in the Ray Lagoon!
Believe it or not, these bizarre looking animals are the closest living relative of sharks!
Both are from a family called elasmobranchs which are different from other fish as their skeletons are made, not out of bone, but out of cartilage; the same stuff that our ears and noses are made from!
This is lighter than bone and helps to keep them buoyant in the water.
Britain is home to a wide variety of marine life, including around 60 species of Ray.
Rays are very well adapted for life on the sea bed. They have flattened bodies that enable them to hide under the sand and their bulbous eyes poke out the sand so they can see any tasty prey swimming past.
To catch their food, they will leap out of the water and trap it under their huge wings. On the bottom of their body is a mouth full of crushing teeth which are incredibly strong, and able to crunch through hard shelled animals like crabs with no problem.
Can you see those holes on the top of the ray, just behind the eyes?
They open and close as if they are blinking, so people often mistake them for eyes, but they actually do an even more important role than that. The rays gills are on the bottom of their body, so it can be difficult for them to breathe while they are buried in the sand as their gills can become clogged with sand.
These holes are called spiracles, and the ray uses them to draw water in through the top of their body and flush it out through the gills on the bottom to make sure no sand is trapped!
Lobsters are crustaceans, just like crabs and shrimps.
This means that rather than having bones inside them, they grow strong shells to protect them.
When ever they want to grow, crustaceans will have to produce a lot of mucus and slide out of their old shell, before growing a completely new one!
|Not Lobster but definitely related, no?
This will also mean puffing themselves up with water while they grow it, so they have room to grow inside the shell, and sometimes even eating their old shell to provide the calcium they need.
They feed on algae, seaweed and small animals such as shellfish. They have two claws, and they use them like a knife and fork with one huge claw used for crushing and one smaller claw used for slicing.
If a lobster loses a limb such as a claw or a leg which they sometimes do during fights, they can regrow it when they molt but it will take a while and will be very small for the next few molts.
Did you know that Jellyfish aren’t really fish at all?
They are from a family called Cnidarians and are very closely related to sea anemones and corals! Cnidarians are very simple animals with stinging tentacles and simple internal organs. They aren’t very good swimmers and rely heavily on the water current to carry them around the water, which is one reason why jellyfish often occur in big groups known as “blooms” or “swarms.”
Jellyfish’s long tentacles are covered in stinging cells known as nematocysts, which are used to catch their food. They feed on tiny plankton that they catch using harpoon like stings and drawing the prey up to their mouth.
|A Lionfish stings like a Jellyfish – that’s why it’s here! =X
Although all jellyfish have stings, not all of them would be able to hurt us as most of their stings aren’t strong enough!
The box jellyfish however, which can be found in tropical water such as the coast of Australia, does have a very strong sting and is thought to be the most dangerous animal in the ocean, and one of the most dangerous animals in the whole world.
Piranhas are freshwater fish that can be found living throughout the rivers of South America. They are famous for their razor sharp teeth and their ferocious natures.
However, piranhas are not quite as bad as people think! One thing’s for sure though; they sure do have incredibly sharp teeth; in fact, the name piranha derives from an old Brazilian word for “scissors!”
However, the idea of piranhas ripping someone to shreds the second they step in the water is slightly over exaggerated. Piranhas live in large groups known as shoals.
This is mainly for protection from predators, however it does mean they often feed in groups and they have been known to finish off a meal as big as a cow between them! But attacks on humans are incredibly rare.
Just like a lot of other fish; piranhas are opportunistic feeders, meaning they will avoid hunting if they can and will usually opt for a meal that is dead or injured.
Killing prey such as a cow or a person takes a lot of energy and they will avoid it at all costs!
Red bellied piranhas have a hierarchy and usually the piranha with the darkest red on their belly is in charge of the shoal and he will stay in the center of the shoal for protection.
They are also covered in light reflecting scales which help to reflect the sunlight and camouflage them in with the water to prevent predators such as birds of prey and jaguars from spotting them.
Clownfish are found in tropical marine waters throughout the world.
|This isn’t a Clownfish but it’s the closest picture i have TO it…if you remember “Dory” from Finding Nemo, they were best friends! LOL!
They are home loving creatures and live among the tentacles of sea anemones in the shallow waters of coral reefs. They are the only fish that appear to be immune to the stings of the anemone.
Their skin is covered in a coating of slime or mucus – similar to that found on the anemone itself – which tricks the anemone into thinking the fish is just another part of itself! The relationship that Clownfish enjoy with their home anemone is symbiotic, which means it benefits them both.
The Clownfishes seek shelter within the anemone whilst keeping the anemone in good health by feeding off parasites and removing any dead tentacles.
Clownfish are very territorial and live in groups that protect their own anemone from the unwanted attentions of other Clownfish.
They can grow up to 13 centimeters in length, are usually covered in bold zones of color and feed mainly on algae, crustaceans and mollusks.
Cuban Crocodiles are one of the most intelligent and aggressive crocodiles in the world!
Rather than swimming, these hunters will sprint and jump through long grass to catch their prey.
They are also thought to be the most endangered crocodile species on the planet.
Cuban Crocodiles will feed on fish, rodents, and even freshwater turtles.
They swallow their food whole with mouthfuls of stones known as Gastroliths that help to break up the food once it is inside their stomach.
Also known as “Pearly Crocodiles”, their beautiful skin has meant they have been hunted to near extinction to make expensive items such as jewelry and accessories.
Green Sea Turtle
Adult Green Sea Turtles are completely herbivorous, apart from when they are young when they will occasionally eat small fish and jelly fish.
|This is not a Green Sea Turtle but it’s the only picture I have that resembles one! 🙂
As adults they usually feed on sea grasses and algae, which has the effect of turning their body fat green. Hence their name!
Unlike fish, turtles have to breathe air and are often seen in the wild coming to the surface so that they can take in a lungful of air. This, unfortunately, makes them vulnerable to boat strikes.
The Green Sea Turtle enjoys widespread distribution and may be found in subtropical and tropical seas of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Ocean.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the turtle is that the females will travel thousands of miles across the oceans to lay their eggs on the very same beach where they were born.
Seahorses are curious creatures.
They belong to the Genus Hippocampus, which, literally translated, means sea monster.
This gene also belongs to the same family as razorfish, pipefish and sea dragons and have evolved over 40 million years.
|Again, this is obviously not a living Seahorse but still, you can’t deny – it IS a Seahorse, right?
A seahorse’s body is not covered by scales. It is enclosed by a series of bone-like rings.
This is great if you’re a sea horse but not if you are a predator that might want to eat seahorse.
Seahorses have a ‘ring’ of spines called a coronet on top of their heads. No two seahorses have the same shaped coronet – just like our fingerprints!
Seahorses swim by quickly moving/undulating their single dorsal fin and the fins on the side of their heads. They are slow moving and swim upright.
And they steer by moving their heads from side to side!
Coral Reefs grow in warm tropical waters around the equator.
They are formed by thousands of tiny animals known as polyps. These polyps grow in huge colonies, each one building a strong skeleton around itself for protection, until very slowly a huge reef is formed.
These reefs rely on millions of tiny single celled algae that live inside the polyps and produce food from sunlight also creating the bright colors that corals are famous for.
Coral reefs are one of the most important habitats in the world. They are home to around 25% of ocean life, and are often known as the “rainforests of the sea”. In fact; they support so many animals that the animals have to work on a “time share,” with some waking up in the day and some waking up at night.
Corals are so sensitive that even a change of 1°C in temperature can harm them, so changes such as global warming are having a huge effect on corals and they are decreasing fast!
Saving corals is easy – they don’t like pollution in the air as it is easily absorbed by sea water so try cutting down your energy use!
Perhaps washing your clothes on a lower temperature or walking instead of driving are easy fixes?
Visitors will undoubtedly be really excited to be joined by a colony of Gentoo Penguins at SEA LIFE London Aquarium.
In this new exhibit, you can journey through an icy landscape full of interactive features – from freezing touch pools to looking at the world through snow goggles.
In the penguin viewing ice cave, you can get a direct window into the habitat of the Gentoo Penguin as these magical creatures dive beneath the water and play in a carefully created icy home from home.
Find out all about the resident penguins here, from their daily routine and how we care for them when you meet the keeper, plus discover how you can help preserve the natural habitat of the Gentoo Penguins and get involved in penguin conservation.
Now’s your chance to see the world!
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