THE DEEP AT HULL
photographs by David Marshall
Very few of us ever have
the chance to get on board a submarine and explore the wonders of the oceans.
However, there is a Public Aquarium, based at Hull in East Yorkshire, known as
The Deep that can give us a good idea of what a submarine journey may be like
as it advertises itself as the World's only submarium.
A few weeks after
The Deep first opened, in March 2002, Sue and I made our first visit and had always
planned to return but time had slipped by so it was not until the summer of 2012
that we would walk through the entrance doors once more.
After hearing about
several new exhibits, learned that the only Green Sawfish/Shark to be viewed in
Europe was here and that the Curator of exhibits at The Deep was hoping that the
aquarium would be the first in the U.K. to be offered membership of the prestigious
World Association for Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA)* I eagerly awaited a second look
around The Deep.
The start of our visit
The Deep is situated in the
former dockland area of Tower Street. What we learned was that when you head for
The Deep, by car, be careful with satellite navigation equipment as this easily
takes you to a small Hull Council Car Park, which I have to admit does have good
views over the Humber Estuary, instead of the large Car Park at the aquarium itself.
very futuristic building looks like something from a cyborg movie and whether
or not this impresses you you are going to love the exhibits inside.
When you arrive at the Public Entrance be prepared to queue, as this is
a very busy place. At least they have a lovely Silver Bream exhibit that you can
view whilst waiting to purchase your entrance ticket. Such is the forward looking
attitude of The Deep that you don't get an actual paper ticket but a swipe card
with the portrait of a fish on it.
card entry tickets.
Through the turnstile, and you have to
take an upward journey, by stairs (3 flights) or lift, to get to the start of
These begin with 'Visions of the Ocean'
that looks at mans perception of our Oceans. Here you find a wonderful aquarium,
with a title of 'stranger than fiction', that is set-up with ocean sand and coral
and is home to tropical marine Pufferfish, Copperband Butterflyfish and Filefish.
An audio-visual presentation follows.
'Timeline: awakening seas' takes you
down a ramp towards an exhibit of living Jellyfish. Here are a number of audio-visual
displays that tell you the story of evolution from the emergence of microscopic
life in the oceans, to the rise of fish, the coming of aquatic mammals and, finally,
the arrival of man on Earth. You have some fantastic representations of fossil
fish to view.
of fossil fishes.
amazing Tiktarlik exhibit.
You are now
into the exhibits proper as you enter 'Lagoon of light and coral realm'. Things
begin very cleverly, as a model of the prehistoric amphibian Tiktarlik rosae is
placed as though a living creature, to show the continuity of ages between extinct
and present day aquatic life. Now you are looking at a splendid mangrove habitat
that exhibits Atlantic Mudskippers to the full. To your left is a lagoon exhibit,
the second largest exhibit in the building, which is home to a variety of stunning
tropical marine fish that include Fingerfish and Yellow Tangs.
Some of the stunning
fish exhibited in the lagoon.
Now we are at
'Discovery centre' where children learn about life in rockpools and are helped
by a very clever interactive game, built into the floor, which allows them to
recognise various creatures.
At 'wave power' we have three really nice exhibits.
Chief of these is the most beautiful coral exhibit I have seen at a U.K. Public
Aquarium. This is a long and deep, but not very wide, aquarium. Swimming among
several forms of coral (including leather and colt) are Purple Tang, Clownfish
and Pyjama Wrasse. You have to see this exhibit to understand its beauty.
we are in 'Endless Ocean'. This is the largest exhibit. Here I achieved an ambition
as I had always wanted to see a Green Sawfish and was a little in awe (although
a Staff member told me that the Sawfish can be a 'nasty piece of work'). Several
other species of Shark and some large Trevallys share the space. Make the most
of the large window as there are not as many viewing opportunities to make the
most of this large exhibit as we had remembered from our first visit.
around the above exhibit is 'Slime'. They have placed a wide variety of 'creature
exhibits' here from Giant African Land Snails, to Tiger Slugs to Poison Arrow
Frogs. If I had to pick a favourite it would be the Garden Eels as they 'bob'
in and out of the substrate like the weird creatures they are.
At the end of this hall you have a
large tropical freshwater aquarium that looks like a cinema screen. Named 'Flooded
Forest' there are a number of large sized rescued Amazonian fish here that include
six Black Pacu, a Tiger Shovelnose Catfish, a Motoro Stingray, two Amazonian Red-tailed
Catfish, two armoured Niger Catfish and a Silver Arowana. What I like is that
the fish have plenty of space to move around in.
Flooded Forest exhibit
Although there have been
interactive and audio-visual presentations from the start, 'Cool seas' begins
what we will call an overdose of modern learning and sometimes you think you are
on the bridge of Battlestar Gallactica rather than in a Public Aquarium. We just
stepped back from this and enjoyed the living exhibits. There are Nautilus, Lobsters,
Wolfish and others. However, the highlight is a large aquarium with Pollack, Brown
Wrasse, Mullet, John Dory and Spotted Floorwalker.
'Kingdom of Ice' is all about interactive
exhibits that explain how the Antarctic works. The only living creatures are Glass
Rivers' is awash with interactive stuff and living fish.
we are into 'Living Rivers' - which is not easy to locate so go towards the eating
area at 'Kingdom of Ice' and look for a downward ramp. . Here you use your imagination;
plenty of interactive stuff, and are the Captain of a submarine that monitors
the quality of water in the Earth's main river systems in the year 2050. In reality
what you have is a brilliant idea of taking seven famous river systems and making
one aquarium for each that represents the decor and flora you would find there.
One fish species then becomes the highlight so you have Red-Bellied Piranhas for
the Venezuelan Orinoco and Grey Knifefish for the Congo. To compliment you have
a small exhibit of Leaf Cutter Ants. Excellent.
D14 - The Red-Bellied Piranhas
comes 'Research and Conservation' that tells you about the conservation and project
work The Deep is involved with away from the building itself.
So back down
the stairs (we lost our way a little) and you exit through a well stocked gift
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and will soon return.
Sometimes the interactive exhibits can be a little overpowering but folk from
younger generations than ours will, I am sure, love it. The majority of the fish
exhibits are excellent. There are plenty of places to eat, seating around many
of the exhibits and excellent toilet facilities. A submarine journey with all
the comforts of home!
*On 12th October 2012 The Deep became the first aquarium
in the U.K. to be invited to join the prestigious World Association for Zoos and
Aquariums (WAZA). WAZA is the unifying organisation for the World zoo and aquarium
community. There are over 300 members across the World from leading zoos, aquariums,
associations and corporate partners who aim to work together to ensure the best
possible animal welfare for the creatures in their exhibits as well as actively
participating in projects to help conserve various animals and their natural habitats