The London Aquarium is to get a £5 million makeover

by Owen James

The London Aquarium, which tunnels underneath the world famous London Eye in the capital’s South Bank district, is getting a makeover.

According to The Evening Standard, Merlin Entertainment, the owner, which bought the facility in May 2008, plans to start work on a giant aquarium refit this month:

The number of species will be increased from 400 to more than 500, with turtles introduced for the first time. Visitors will be able to walk through new tunnels to see fish swimming above them, and peer into tanks from above as well as side-on.

Divisional director David Sharpe said: “This is a programme to bring the London Aquarium into the 21st century. While the name is world famous, it has been left behind by other aquariums. We’re now in a position to change that to make it a better experience for children and families with more emphasis on education and the environment.”

Merlin Entertainment also plans to incorporate The London Aquarium into its Sea Life brand, although apparently the name won’t change entirely.

I’ve been to The London Aquarium several times, and I think the freshen up is a wise move. The main features are very impressive, particularly the shark tanks and the small but well-stocked reef tanks, which have clearly had a lot of love lavished on them in recent years. But the corridors and other facilities are rather shabby.

It’d be good, too, if the aquarium didn’t discharge visitors to walk through a huge gift shop selling non-biodegradable tat (and from then onto McDonalds) but that’s probably too much to hope for.

London aquarists will be spoiled for choice in a few years, since London Zoo is to move its aquarium facilities over to the new Biota! project in the East End by 2012. This huge project will feature vast aquariums, including a rainforest ecosystem and a coral reef.

Check out Katy's Tropical Fish Guide for more aquarium info.

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