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Sunday, May 18, 2014

National SEA LIFE Centre in Birmingham

The National Sea Life Centre(Aquarium) in Birmingham is located right in the centre of the city and is home to more than 60 displays of underwater life. From the Black Tip Reef Shark to the Moray Eel and from the awesome Hammerhead Sharks to the stunning Jellyfishes, you will find it all here. The Aquarium is opposite the National Indoor Arena and is easy to reach. It is one of the most visited and loved attraction in Birmingham.



During our trip to Birmingham, we visited the Sea Life Centre. The centre is open daily from 10am to 5pm(weekdays) and 10am to 6pm (weekends and school holidays; excluding Christmas Day). Last admission is 1 hour before closing time. We took around 3 hours to go around all the exhibits. If you have young kids with you, you can easily allocate 4-5 hours to the attraction. The centre can be quite busy at times, so it is advisable to book your tickets online as those with pre-booked tickets are given priority over visitors who purchase their ticket on the day at the counter.



The Sea Life Centre features 14 zones:
- Reef Edge
- Red Sea Wreck
- Shark Lagoon
- Rockpool
- Nemo's kingdom
- Coral Cave
- Bay of Rays
- Seahorse kingdom
- Jellyfish Discovery
- Mangrove Swamp
- Otter Sanctuary
- Turtle Sanctuary
- Ocean Tunnel and
- Atlantis Mirror Maze




There are more than 1000 creatures in the aquarium. This was the first time I set my eyes upon the magnificent Bowmouth Guitar Shark with its highly distinctive wide and thick body, a blunt snout and a large shark-like dorsal and tail fins. It was amazing to see this creature glide past in the Ocean Tunnel. Each time it passed by me, I was awe-struck.



This was also the first time I spotted so many Rays at a single time. The Bay of Rays had a lot of adult Rays swimming around with some even coming to the edge of the open-top enclosure to get a closer look at the visitors.


The new 2013 attraction was the Jellyfish section where amazingly delicate Jellyfish were floating in large cylindrical tanks which had moving water. This was so that the Jellyfish don't come into contact with any hard objects. The atmosphere in the tanks was mimicking the pattern found in the wild.



The Octopus was hiding somewhere and we couldn't spot it and neither could we see the Otter family. But we had a wonderful time marvelling at the Hammerhead sharks, the Moray Eel, the Piranhas, The Green Turtle, Sea Horses and a whole lot of other fishes.




There is an Interactive Rockpool where you get up close and personal with some of the wonderful creatures. You can touch a crab or a Sea Anemone or even a Starfish. Make sure that you don't miss the variety of talks and demonstrations that are held throughout the day in the centre. The feeding times are very informative and you can find more information about it here.




The 4D cinema - SpongeBob Square Pants - The Great Jelly Rescue was quite good. If you have been to Madame Tussauds, you will know what "Sensorama 4-D Cinema" is. Apart from the 3D effect, you will also experience wind, water spray, a little poke maybe :) depending on the film you are watching. It was fun.

Overall, an excellent place to spend some time if you are interested in marine life. You will get to see a whole lot of marine life, some hands-on experience and watch the fun 4D cinema. My favourite was the awesome 360 degree Ocean tunnel.


Tips:
- There is no café on site; so please keep this in mind. Check with the staff if you can get a hand stamp to exit and re-enter the attraction.
- You can get the tickets for a cheaper price if you buy online. So always check the online/promotional deals.
- Visit in the off-peak hours. You can avoid the crowds.
- Enter the Ocean Tunnel when it is less busy as the best way to enjoy it is to spend some time there.

National SEA LIFE centre,
The Waters Edge,
Brindleyplace,
Birmingham, B1 2HL
 

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