This week, we were invited to the opening of the new ‘Day & Night‘ exhibit at Brighton Sea Life Centre. Although officially opening on 25th May, we were invited for a sneak peek as part of our ambassadorship for the centre along with lots of other bloggers – which gave us a lovely chance to catch up with Chelle and Claire.
We’ve been coming to Brighton’s Sea Life Centre for a number of years not only as a family, but when I was a child when we used to visit Brighton for the day, however the Aquarium actually dates back much much further than that – as far as Victorian times in fact. If you didn’t know already, Brighton’s Sea Life Centre is the OLDEST Aquarium in the world.
With this in mind, it was no surprise when we found out how much money had to be invested into making this new feature, as well as renovate lots of other areas around the Aquarium, as magnificent as it is.
Here’s what happened during our visit to the centre. You can read about our previous visit here.
The First of its Kind
As well as being the oldest operating Aquarium in the world, with history dating back to 150 years, as well as playing an important role during the war, the new £2.7 million pound renovation now boasts the first ever ‘Day & Night’ feature for a UK Aquarium. The state of the art attraction takes visitors through 24-hours at the coral reef and what that looks like as it transitions.
When we visited this week, we started our tour in the main gallery which features the famous rainbow coloured victorian arcade. Here we saw a few of our firm favourites; Jelly Fish, the Octopus, and the Rays.
After a good 30-40 minutes of browsing, we then made our way to the end of the arcade where the tour continued through the rainforest. We had some waiting to do as the team were still waiting for everyone to arrive, so we hung around checking out anything we’d missed, but as soon as it opened we were raring to check out the new feature!
From Dawn ’til Dusk
The new ‘Day & Night‘ feature showcases the UK’s largest collection of rays and sharks along with a plethora of marine life in both a day and a nocturnal environment. During your visit, you’ll see 840 stunning sea creatures within the impressive 700,000 litre display, including; Black Tip Reef Sharks, Zebra Sharks, Honeycomb Stingrays and Fantail Sting Rays.
Prior to the creatures making their way home to Brighton, a number of them were located across the country for safe keeping, including at one of our favourite SEA LIFE centres; Weymouth.
The centre’s much loved turtles, Lulu and Gulliver, will also be returning to the centre – after a well-earned holiday in other Sea Life homes – to take up residence in the new attraction to retire. They are believed to be the oldest captive Sea Turtles in the UK.
We started our tour of ‘Day & Night’ in one of the oldest parts; the Dolphinarium, which has also had a makeover. Here is where we were given an exclusive talk on the history of the Aquarium, as well as a detailed account on the renovation. After, we then made our way downstairs and towards the main feature of ‘Day & Night’.
Arriving at an impressive 5-meter viewing screen – which sits to the left hand side of the tunnel – we were presented with a beach “scene”, offering a window onto the world of the reef by day, featuring a variety of colourful reef fish such as Sweetlips, Sailfin Snappers, Butterflyfish and Clown Triggerfish.
This is a truly spectacular feature for the Aquarium, we easily spent half our time on this area alone. The giant viewing gallery is simply magnificent. The stone steps in front of the tank allow little ones to be fully immersed; capturing the senses as creatures pass by.
Walking past the entrance to the tunnel for just a few minutes takes us to the ‘Night’ portion of the new feature, where the atmosphere of the ocean changes dramatically as nocturnal creatures such as Popsicle Squirrelfish and Nurse Sharks emerge from submerged caves and hidden corners of the reef. Bioluminescent corals surrounding viewing windows exude a mysterious glow and offers a whole new ocean experience. Cleverly, this is located on the right hand side of the tunnel – completing the ‘Night & Day’ experience.
When you’re not gazing at dazzling coral, behind the tanks is where you’ll find another new installation for Day & Night; an interactive beach with shoreline and crashing waves. This is where a lot of the children came to life, as they “paddled” in the sea and kicked at waves.
Obviously a visit to Sea Life isn’t complete without a journey through the underwater tunnel, and it goes without saying that this has had a complete makeover also. Putting both Day & Night together as one giant crescendo, you will feel as if you’re diving through coral – just like the turtles and rays.
As you’re taken through different periods of the day, jewelled fish capture your eye as well as the brightly lit bioluminescent coral, inches from your fingertips.
The new feature for Brighton’s Sea Life Centre is absolutely breathtaking and was certainly worth the wait over the past 6+ months whilst renovation took place. I cannot recommend a visit more, especially as you will not see half of this – or anything like it – anywhere else in the country.
Our visit was a complete attack on the senses what with all the changes that have taken place and another visit soon will likely be required to make sure we didn’t miss anything! It was so easy to flit between the different areas, especially with a four year old who could not keep still through excitement.
We were given complimentary access as part of our ambassadorship with Brighton SEA LIFE Centre, however all thoughts, opinions, and images are our own unless stated.