The Sea Life London Aquarium is located on the ground floor of County Hall on the South Bank of the River Thames in central London, near the London Eye. It opened in March 1997 as the London Aquarium and hosts about one million visitors each year.
In 2005, the aquarium displayed three robotic fish created by the computer science department at the University of Essex. The fish were designed to be autonomous, swimming around and avoiding obstacles like real fish. Their creator claimed that he was trying to combine "the speed of tuna, acceleration of a pike, and the navigating skills of an eel." In April 2008, the aquarium was purchased by Merlin Entertainments for an undisclosed sum. The facility was closed for a £5 million refurbishment, which was completed in April 2009. The additions included a new underwater tunnel, Shark Walk, a revamped Pacific Ocean tank, and a complete rerouting of the exhibit, all of which were carried out under the supervision of architects Kay Elliott. The attraction officially became a Sea Life Centre when it reopened in April 2009. In May 2011, the aquarium opened a new penguin exhibit, with 10 gentoo penguins transferred from the Edinburgh Zoo. In 2015, the aquarium was moved to a different location in County Hall due to the opening of Shrek's Adventure! London.
Start your visit by walking over a glass window with incredible views into their magnificent Pacific display. Take a long look at some of the most majestic creatures in the ocean as they swim just inches beneath your feet! Sharks have lived in our oceans for more than 420 million years! That makes them older than trees. Their brains have evolved to become more intelligent and devoted to their senses – mainly their ability to smell. There are over 500 species of shark in our oceans and you’ll meet lots of them when you explore the Pacific Shipwreck. Sand Tiger Sharks look ferocious with a mouth full of pointy teeth, but their divers regularly jump in with them because they aren't dangerous to humans. They are, however, voracious predators of small fish, crustaceans and squid, feeding mostly at night and close to the ocean floor. The Sand Tiger Shark has a very unique and curious habit. They come up to the surface of the water to gulp air and hold it in their stomachs. Sharks are naturally negatively buoyant which means they sink if they stop swimming. Holding air in their tummy like a balloon enables Sand Tigers to float motionless in the water without sinking. So they can silently drift up close to their prey and quickly snatch it in their jaws. They can grow to be over 3 metres long and are found in warm or temperate waters throughout the world’s ocean, with the exception of the Eastern Pacific. Most sharks must keep moving to breath because they need water to flow over their gills, but Nurse Sharks can stop swimming and rest. That's because they can pump water through their mouths and gills while their sitting still. In the ocean Nurse Sharks can gather in groups of up to 40. They hide together under submerged ledges around coral reefs, often piled up on top of each other. At night they become more active and venture out on their own to prey on sea snails, crustaceans, molluscs and other small fish. Black Tip Reef Sharks are found on the tropical coral reefs of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, Blacktip Reef Sharks prefer shallow, inshore waters. These sharks are viviparous, meaning they give birth to live young rather than laying eggs. In the first few years of their life young Black Tip Reef Sharks often fall prey to larger fish such as groupers, Grey Reef Sharks, Tiger Sharks or even bigger Blacktip Reef Sharks. Juvenile Black Tips often use mangroves as a nursery ground; Hiding amongst the tightly woven roots where bigger Sharks can't reach them.
It might surprise you to know that Dogfish are actually a type of shark. The Lesser Spotted Dogfish is one of the most abundant Shark species in the Northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean. Rarely growing any longer than 80cm in length, these cute little sharks are opportunistic predators which feed on a wide range of shellfish and crustaceans. Fish & chips shops often sell this species of Dogfish under the name Rock Salmon. Another small species of shark, the Spiny Dogfish, has been overfished for its use in Rock Salmon and is now Critically Endangered as a result. Sharks do not cope with commercial fishing pressure as they reproduce too slowly, so we highly recommend that you avoid Rock Salmon or any Shark if you spot it on a menu.
You can continue your journey of discovery as you explore the mysterious creatures that inhabit the world's coastlines. Be dazzled by a sparkling silver shoal of sand eels and meet their Common Octopus, a very intelligent relative of the Snail.
In the shallow Atlantic waters, beneath an old pier, you'll arrive next at the lagoon that is rippling with beautiful Rays. These curious creatures are graceful to watch from above but don't forget to take a look through the window below to see the mouth and gills on the underside of their body as they pass on by. There are over 500 different species of Rays and Skate in our oceans and rivers. Their closest relative is the Shark; Rays evolved from Sharks around 150 million years ago. Just like Sharks, Rays don’t have a bony skeleton. Instead, their skeleton is made of cartilage (just like our nose and ears!) This makes them lighter so it is easier for Rays to glide through the ocean. Though they are commonly known as Undulate Rays, Undulates are actually a type of Skate. Rays and Skate are similar but there are a few differences including how they reproduce; Rays give birth to live young whereas Skate lay eggs. Undulate Rays are very well adapted for life on the sea bed; They have flattened bodies so they can easily hide under the sand and their bulbous eyes poke out to spot any tasty prey swimming past. To catch their food, they will leap out of the sand and trap it under their huge wings. With their mouth full of crushing teeth located underneath them it is easy for them to quickly grab and consume their prey. Sadly Undulate Rays are now Endangered off the coast of the UK due to overfishing. Stingrays get their name from the stinging barb at the base of their tail. When they feel threatened Stingrays can whip up their tail to puncture their pursuer with their spiny, venomous barb. Once they have done this it takes a while for a new one to grow back, so they only use it as a last resort. In their 'Dive Discovery' you'll find huge Southern Stingrays. These large predators spray water from their mouth and flap their wings to disturb the sandy bottom and reveal hidden prey. They also like to bury themselves in the sand when they have to hide from their own predators such as Great Hammerhead Sharks and Killer Whales.
If a disabled visitor can present official documentation along with your ticket, then you will receive a free carer ticket. In the case of visual impairment, a registration card known as the BD8 or a Certificate of Visual Impairment (CVI). will be fine. Sea Life London is fully accessible including their Behind The Scenes Tour. There are lifts to all levels. If you are interested in one of their VIP Experiences and would like more information please complete a form here, and a member of the team will be in contact. Assistance dogs are welcome. Visit 17 themed zones over 3 floors.
Location : SEA LIFE London Aquarium, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7PB
Transport: Waterloo (National Rail). Waterloo (Northern Line), (Bakerloo Line) OR Westminster (Circle Line), (District Line), (Jubilee Line) then cross bridge. London Buses routes 211, 77 or 381 stop behind aquarium OR 1,4, 26, X68, 76, 168, 171, 172, 176, 188, 243, 507 and 638. stop six minutes away.
Opening Times: Weekdays 10:00 to 18:00.
Opening Times: Weekends 09:30 to 19:00.
Tickets : From £20.40. From £32.00 for priority entry. From £80.00 for shark experience. Book online for substantial discount.
Tickets : Combination tickets with other London Attractions available.
Tel: 0871 663 1678