THE SEAQUARIUM AT WESTON-SUPER-MARE
By David Marshall
Weston-Super-Mare is the closest seaside resort to Bristol
and is often described as 'Mini-Blackpool'. Unfortunately, upon
the day of our visit, the heavens decided to open so we did
not see much of the town and will long remember the sight of
forlorn fellow visitors literally 'soaked to the bone' as the
wind blew cascades of water in from the sea.
When the Seaquarium, which was built by the Sea-life Company
at a total cost of £1.6 million, was opened in 1995 it
was hailed as a spectacular achievement and as the last aquarium
(to the present time) in the U.K. to be built upon a pier (which
was specially constructed for this building).
In more recent times the Sea-Life people sold the building
(along with one of their properties in Wales) to Seaquarium
Ltd. and a transformation thus began from displaying native
marines to a more all round aquatic experience.
As you enter the building you are in the 'Evozone' in which
aquaria, of various sizes, displaying African Lungfish, Axolotl,
Horned Frogs, Dwarf Crocodiles and Bearded Dragons are used
to show various steps along the path of evolution. I have a
feeling that work is yet to be completed upon this section as
there was no clear information as to how and why these species
were actually chosen so visitors with little knowledge of evolutionary
theory may have been a little bemused at this point?
The local fish exhibit.
Now we move onto a beautiful biotope exhibit that showed 'South-West
freshwater fish' where European Perch, Golden Rudd, Common Carp,
Pumpkinseeds, Mirror Carp and Sterlet were used to show how
the diversity of the local waterways are composed of both native
and introduced fish species.
'Brackish waters' was brilliant. The main part of the biotope
featured a South Seas fisherman's hut. The young Scats, Archerfish
and Fingerfish were all in excellent condition and when these
youngsters reach maturity this will form one very spectacular
Sixteen aquaria, varying greatly in size and dimensions, featuring
various tropical marine fish species follow. What has to be
said is that ALL of the fish displayed were in an excellent
state of health and I liked the way that notices were posted
to say 'No flash photography as this can do great harm to sensitive
My favourite display was 'Red Sea' and the fish species here
included Green Wrasse, Torpedo Goby, Blue-green Chromis and
Flame Angelfish. Sue was intrigued by a Mottled Stonefish who
shared his home with a huge Zebra Moray Eel.
With native marines in mind the 'Ray Pool' has been retained
and I am always fascinated by the natural camouflage of these
most elegant of fish.
Now we are onto 'Amazone'. We found this area in great transition
and containing tropical freshwater species from Asia and Africa
as well as those from South America that we had expected to
As usual the Piranha display caused much interest among visitors.
I liked the Mbuna display with its various colour forms of Zebra
Cichlids. Some newly installed Silver Dollars were forming a
tightly packed shoal and had a beautiful North American Gar
Now here was one exhibit I could not understand? In an aquarium
through which you had to look-up through small glass portholes
to catch glimpses of the fish were Black Pacu's, Tiger Shovel-nosed
Catfish and Red-tailed Catfish all of whom had been donated
by their previous 'owners'. From what the eye could catch these
fish were in an excellent condition but surely they would have
been better displayed in an aquarium in which they could actually
Now we are onto several tanks containing 'Night hunters' and
although a lovely Pygmy Lionfish and a Moray Eel could be seen
I found this the most disappointing section.
Finally we reach a native marine walk through tunnel complete
with Dogfish, Rays and Pollack. Be warned as once you are through
the spinal gate that follows you are out of the fish exhibits
and into the cafeteria and gift shop area.
In conclusion the Seaquarium is well worth a visit and we had
an enjoyable time here. As you will have surmised the displays
are in a state of transition and once this is complete the Seaquarium
will, hopefully, become a compact complete aquatic experience.