Newest Review: ... Experience~ As we entered the Sea Life Centre, we were met with a brightly lit reception desk and to... more
The place to go to see sea life!
Sealife Centre (Scarborough)
Member Name: pink_glitter
Sealife Centre (Scarborough)
Advantages: interesting, suitable for all ages
Disadvantages: Expensive, not well sign posted inside
When we went to Scarborough recently we decided to pay a trip to the Sea Life centre. I had been before a couple of times when I was a kid, but couldn't really remember a whole lot about it. When we were checking the website prior to our visit, I noticed that the London aquarium is also part of the Sea Life group. I must admit having visited the London aquarium a couple of years back and left feeling somewhat disappointed with my visit, I was a little sceptical as to how much we'd enjoy this visit to the Scarborough centre.
The Sea Life centre is situated close to Scarborough's North Bay and in fact as you look out over the bay, it's instantly noticeable due to its distinctive shape of several white triangular roofs. We travelled by car, and found it easy to get to. If you drive into Scarborough and head for the North Bay, it is well signposted. I must admit, we cheated a bit and simply entered the postcode into the sat nav...should you want to follow suit, the postcode is YO12 6RP.
If you want to travel by bus, according to the leaflet I have here, you will need to take the service '3A', which I assume you can take directly from Scarborough town centre.
Once there, we found that the building had a large car park, and despite the fact we went reasonably close to opening time on a weekday, it was already starting to fill up. My boyfriend was really annoyed that it was pay and display, and felt that we were being ripped off, especially as it cost £4 (I *think* that was for the whole day though). I have to say, parking is quite expensive in Scarborough in general, and over the three days we were there we ended up spending nearly £25 just on parking. We only found out just prior to leaving that there is a park and ride service, which may be worth checking out should you plan to visit the area by car ... http://www.scarboroughparkandride.co.uk/
As we entered the Sea Life Centre, we were met with a brightly lit reception desk and to the left was a very impressive looking waterfall, which cascaded down into a tank full of fish. We managed to time it just so that we arrived at the same time as a party of school children, so we had to wait a little while to buy our tickets, but that wasn't really too much of a hardship.
The man on reception was friendly and once we had paid we were given a leaflet, which featured a map, as well as the times and locations of various talks that are held throughout the day.
Once past the waterfall, you head into darkened rooms, full of lit up aquariums, housing an array of amazing sea life. The tanks were all clean and the sea life all appeared to be well looked after. Each tank does have sign posts telling you what the creatures are, however some of these were quite small and didn't have as much information as I would have expected. Not only that, but I noticed some were quite high up, so no use for children.
Every creature you could imagine is here, and as you walk around, the creatures seem to get more spectacular by the minute... from small fish as you enter through to spectacular rays, octopuses, turtles and sharks. Especially impressive, is the jellyfish section. This area is completely dark and you can watch the jelly fish as they glow in the dark which is quite mesmerising.
After you head through the first section of tanks, you come to an outdoor area, where the otters are housed. When we looked at the leaflet we had been given when we paid, we realised that it was only around 5 minutes until the 'otter talk and feed' so we hung around. A lady with a microphone came out, and gave a talk on the otters. I must admit, I was surprised at how interesting it was (I wasn't really expecting to enjoy it), and the lady giving the talk seemed very knowledgeable. After the talk two men came out to train and feed the otters. It was quite interesting watching them do 'tricks' as I'd never realised otters were so intelligent. The feeding however was a bit much, as they are fed on one day old chicks (dead ones I should add) , and as soon as I saw these chicks still had their yellow fur, I decided it was time for us to move on, as I just couldn't watch! They do warn you this will happen in fairness, so if you're squeamish or have little kids who might be upset by it, you can leave sharpish!
The next thing you come to are the penguins. The sides of the tank they live in is glass, and they are quite interesting to watch. There was also a 'penguin talk and feed', but this was not until a whole hour after the otter talk, so we didn't stick around for that.
Just past the penguin area, is a place where you could play mini golf. I believe this is a new feature to the Sea Life Centre, but despite the number of children around, we didn't see anyone playing it. It also wasn't very clear where you went to get golf clubs and balls from, and I think that since they promote it so heavily in their leaflets, it could do with being better sign posted.
Moving on, you will then come to the seal rescue centre. This was something I hadn't even realised the Sea Life Centre did, but they have a sort of seal hospital, if you like, where they nurse and care for injured seals. There is also a 'seal pool' just around the corner, and again, we stopped to listen to the talk that was being given, followed by watching the seals being fed.
The next part of the Sea Life Centre is one of my favourite things and one of the few things I can remember from previous visits....the tunnel! This is basically a glass tunnel which you can walk through, watching the sea life swim around above you. It really is quite amazing to watch, and I loved it just as much this time as I did the first time around.
At this point, you are pretty much reaching the end of the visit (although there's nothing to stop you going around twice should you wish). There is a small area with turtles upstairs, as well as a café. We didn't stop here, so I can't comment on food or prices unfortunately. As you go downstairs, you pretty much come out at the gift shop, which is pretty much like any other gift shop...a place where you can buy a tacky, fish-related memento of your visit!
Before your visit, it is well worth looking to see if you can find a discount voucher online. There are frequently '2 for 1' offers on tickets which can reduce the cost of your visit substantially. We found one such offer, on CokeZone, just by doing a google search.
I have also noticed that if you book your tickets online prior to visiting, you can also make a small saving. Visit http://www.visitsealife.com/Scarborough/
Prices (as of June 2011) are:
Child (age 3-14) :£11.40
Family of four (2 adults, 2 children): £46.80
I do think that this is quite expensive, considering that looking around takes about four hours max (unless you want to go around a few times) which is why it is so worthwhile looking out for special offers.
I actually really enjoyed my trip to the Sea Life Centre, and I would be happy to go again. The assortment of creatures is fascinating, and the talks which I wasn't sure I would enjoy were interesting. The only downside (other than the high prices), is that that I feel it would benefit from more information about the creatures on the walls (and moving them down in some cases so youngsters can read them too), and the mini golf area needs to be better signposted. Other than that, I would recommend it as being a great family day out for anyone visiting the Scarborough area.
Summary: A good day out in Scarborough
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