Swimming with the Fishes

We have wanted to go to the Sea Life Aquarium for ages, but due to closures and everything we haven’t been able to. Last week we finally managed to go, here’s what we found.

After the disappointment with the London Zoo we thought we would give London’s wildlife another go this time the underwater kind.

We booked two tickets online a couple of weeks before careful to avoid the school holiday and set off this week to London’s Southbank and the old County Hall building. Whilst there was some discounts on the tickets (Normally they would be ridiculous! £30!) The former home of the Greater London Council and other government departments, now home to sharks and other less menacing creatures (less menacing than a civil servant that is!)

The queue was pretty quick given that all tickets were sold out sadly we did not avoid the onslaught of children (our careful plan was thwarted) We started to wander through the foyer and found a security guard checking bags and an airport style metal detector. However he was bored so we could have walked in with a machete and he wouldn’t have cared. (After 30mins inside we wish we had!) As you walk you are lead though a walkway with a glass floor and a view into the Shark tank below. Similar to the views at Tower Bridge but with a nicer view. Those inhabitants we mentioned swim majestically about under your foot. You head down to their level via a submersion tank (the lift!) and find yourself in a long corridor filled to the brim…

With kids – 100’s of them all bunking off school with their stupid parents and we mean truly stupid as in ‘Oh look a Dolphin!” (It was a Stingray for your information) We proceeded to wander from tank to tank listening to ‘Oh look Bertha, that Turtle wants to give you a kiss, kiss him, mhh, mhh! all whilst banging repetitively on the glass! This made us want to work out how long a person would take to drown. Also a note with the exception of us – there was no one wearing a mask – NOT ONE PERSON!

In all of the entirety of the aquarium we found one smart kid. One who knew that it was a Clown Fish and not ”IT’S NEMO!!” and found a small Hermit Crab hiding from all the stupid people inside of it’s shell – Thank you child, you needed an honourary mention.

We walked on finding the Shark tank and the Marine tank. A pair of large two/three storey open spaces with all kinds of sea life, Stingrays and Turtles swimming by where once government secretaries filled paperwork. It’s quite impressive that the architects managed to convert such a boring place into something as impressive as these tanks. A giant Easter Island head placed in the middle with a dinosaur skeleton wrapped around and other fish tank ornaments on a huge scale (scale get it!!)

It was while fighting to get a view of the sharks, through the mass of small people and their inane carers that the staff member tried to prove she was more stupid than any of the aforementioned idiots. ‘Who here is afraid of Shaaaaaaaaaaarks?’ She bellowed over the tannoy and continued to spurt inaccurate and ridiculous statements of untruths. From stating that the Sharks pictured above were “Bottle Nosed, Nassing Shark and the Meladone”

They really need to employ people with Marine Biology degrees to speak and inform or someone who has some degree of knowledge/interest in sea life not some former Chugger who can shout louder than any kid in the place.

Thankfully the Penguin handler seemed to have knowledge of her charges and actually knew what breed of penguin they have and other helpful facts. Likewise the guy in the open tank area was telling everyone about what fish who can find in your local fish and chips shop and how to make sure that your fish are ethically sourced. Then pointing them out in a special clear tank which should have a deep fat fryer running off of it was equally informative if a little too camp and with a strange idea of funny.

There is also a large area filled with Jelly Fish (Made a little more colorful by the changing lights) Unfortunately amongst the sea life there is a tonne of large LED Screens with people playing computer games (Why?!? Why bother going to see creatures if you’re only going to stare at a screen?)

There was some Pirañas with some rather comical decorations in the tank.

A Bunch of Penguins who were running/swimming around rather wildly in celebration of their future move to Denmark (Where hopefully people will know what they are)

In fact there are large sections entirely blocked of for the gaming, VR and Selfie areas where you can get staff to take your picture in front of a massive green screen. This sadly seems to be the main focus “Selfies and gaming”

All of this seems rather sad as no one seems actively interested in any kind of marine life or ocean life. The problem being, that anyone that is interested was stuck behind these self obsessed morons and suffered because of them. We witnessed one girl taking near to 200 selfies of herself in front of a wall.

After finishing with the downstairs areas we emerged upstairs in the gift shop – large enough that clearly that is the focus point. We couldn’t quite understand why there were toy tractors, cranes, tanks and guns? But you got your usual array of Finding Nemo, Dory and Baby Sharks as well as Mermaids – which we didn’t see in any of the tanks – were all available to buy.

Overall the experience was tarnished by the 90,000 kids who were meant to be at school and their parents who clearly also never learnt to spell or speak correctly, but in all having visited a couple of Aquariums in other countries – Rhodes in Greece and Malaga in Spain (All of which cost only about 12 euro’s) – we were less than impressed and that’s saying something given Rhodes only had about half a dozen tanks.

The London Sea Life Exhibition is okay much like most things in London it just about passes the grade – minimum effort and lackluster. However the creatures seem content as they can be, swimming around in the basement of the Georgian building and there is variety, it’s just a lacking in all.

That said if we got to go back without the hoards we would probably give it another try!

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