A VISIT TO THE OCEANARIUM, BOURNEMOUTH
Text and photographs
by David Marshall
The Oceanarium at Bournemouth is very easy to find as
it is situated right on the sands of West Beach adjacent to the Pier and opposite
the beautiful theatre park gardens (watch out for some very tame Squirrels and
I have to confess that
I had expected The Oceanarium to be housed in an older building and not the very
modern one that we found. One word of warning! If you need to make use of the
toilets go, via the gift shop, before you purchase an entry ticket to the exhibits
as you have a job getting back into the exhibits otherwise.
Like so many
modern Public Aquariums the Oceanarium follows the American style of having thirty
displays. These displays are spread over two floors. There are information boards
to accompany all of the displays but these tend to be basic when compared to those
at many other Public Aquariums in the U.K.
The first four aquariums on floor
one are built into a wall that divides the exhibit area from the cafeteria - which
itself was very busy on the day Sue and I visited. Three of these house a selection
of tropical freshwater species and the fourth a re-creation of a section of the
Pier support that houses some wonderfully coloured native marine Wrasse.
we are at the first of several spectacular exhibits of tropical freshwater fish.
This one features fish of the America's. This is a wonderful sight with a large
round open-topped affair containing a group of large Red devil cichlids, Metynnis
species, Motoro stingrays, large loricarins and Pimelodus catfishes.
- Fish of the America's display..
of the amazing Red devil cichlids
we either take a lift or the stairs to floor two. If you take the stairs you can
view 'Terrapin paradise' where several Red-eared terrapins are housed.
you enter floor two you find yourself in a rainforest area. The first exhibit
is a large oval tank that is home to a large shoal of Red-bellied piranha. This
offers a perfect opportunity to view the remarkable body colours these fish show.
For fish with a man-eating reputation, we caught feeding time with vegetable pellets
the surprise order of the day.
A film, running on a loop system,
warns about purchasing fish that will grow too large for the average aquarium
and is the perfect lead into one of the most spectacular aquarium displays I have
seen. A very spacious aquarium is home to a collection of rescued and donated
fish that include some extremely large Black pacu, Pseudoras niger, Tiger shovel-nosed
catfish, Giraffe catfish, Sorubim lima and the largest African Aluminium catfish
I have ever seen. I stayed ages here and found watching the amazing activity that
was going on much easier than trying to take decent photographs.
the next small section are a pair of Oriental small-clawed otters that were certainly
'in charge' of their spacious display area. This area has a variety of water and
land sites. An aquarium employee was telling Sue how the Otters like to look out
of their exhibit windows and watch people playing on the beach below.
we are at a large Rift Valley display. Not only do you find some quality Mbuna
cichlids here but also there are several species of my beloved Synodontis, including
two very large acanthomias that were 'bossing' the others around and a large Senegal
Rift Valley aquarium.
fantastic Synodontis catfishes could be viewed in this exhibit
press releases sent to Aquarium Gazette magazine, I knew that the tropical freshwater
exhibit 'Ganges' was a large display containing a wide variety of fish species.
I don't know what had happened but we didn't find exactly what was expected here
but instead an exhibit that was in a re-construction phase and contained a large
number of various young Puntius barbs, Asian catfish and Asian loach species.
If all these species will live in harmony when they reach full size then this
will be the spectacular display talked about in the releases. Go around the back
of the exhibit and you will come face-to-face with 'Ziggy', a large Water dragon
with a tail measuring two thirds of its entire body length.
A number of
small tropical marine displays, under the banner of 'Marine Research Lab', come
next. There are some nice fish and corals to view but this area needed a little
work on the decor so on the day of our visit, the creatures on display, were not
to be viewed at their best.
'Marine Research Lab' area held some beautiful tropical marine fish
tortoises, Spiny tailed lizard and Southern painted turtle follow and these creatures
were all well exhibited and in perfect health.
Barrier Reef' is a tropical marine walk through tunnel containing a large selection
of fish, all in good health, including Black tipped reef sharks, Nurse shark,
Bigeye jack, Moray eels and two large Green turtles housed here after injuries
prevented their return to the sea. Readers of Aquarium Gazette will know how loved
these Turtles are by the Aquarium staff and the strange adventures they get up
Barrier Reef' viewed from above.
of the Green turtles
'Abyss' there are several native marine displays which house a good selection
of fish, and crustaceans that live in a world without light. I loved the Wolf
Finally, comes another large tropical marine exhibit whose occupants
include Porcupine puffers, Guitarfish and Epaulette shark. This display is used
as a message board to highlight environmental problems that are going on in our
By now we are back on the first floor as we exit the building via
the well-stocked gift shop.
Sue and I enjoyed our visit. There are fish
exhibits here that will appeal to most fishkeepers and if, like me, you love catfish,
then there is the best selection of such fish I have seen at a U.K. Public Aquarium.