I can't recommend this activity enough. While museums can be stressful experiences to navigate with boisterous young children, I actually find aquariums to be the opposite in nature. This may partly be because watching fish in aquariums has been found to lower people's stress responses and improve their mood, or there may be other reasons behind it.. If you have any ideas, let minnow ;)
Visitor interaction at the National Marine Aquarium is high, with many varied activities to take part in, which are included in the entry fee. Although the entry price might seem costly at first, it covers a full year of visits, so if you visit more than once in a year it actually works out fairly cheap. You just need to attach photos of all the attendees to the receipt to be able to take advantage of this offer. It's a bit of effort but worth it in the long-run - mullet over and I think you'll agree...
The National Marine Aquarium has a simple engagement tool for children, which (from a science communicator perspective) I thought was really good. On the way in you collect a small card that pictures different sea creatures, e.g. a shark, a sea star, then as you make your way around the aquarium you collect the a stamp of each picture. My girls loved doing this as it gave their busy little hands something active to do, rather than only looking at the sights around them.
They were also really excited to see a Velvet Swimming Crab, as we saw one in the wild while rock-pooling last summer. I love watching my children's minds develop into making these links between past and present experiences, and asking questions about them: the basic foundation required for any scientist.
|Watching scientists at work|
|Exploring a sea star up close with a member of staff|
|Obligatory sea star selfie|
|'Look mummy, these sea stars are cuddling!'|
The National Marine Aquarium is home to the deepest tank in the UK, a 550,000 litre exhibit called the Atlantic Ocean:
|I could have stared at this incredible sight for hours|
|Drifting with the water...|
As an added experience-enricher, we listened to Poco Drom's ethereal Jellyfish Lullabubble song when we got home (be warned: it's catchy and will also make you sleepy!):
So many fish exhibits to trawl through...
|Flatfish in the ocean exhibit|
|This face means: there's a shark behind me isn't there...!|
I hope you've enjoyed this blog post. I've tried to fillet with as much useful information as possible, but please do post any points I've missed in the comments.
Disclaimer: Apologies for all the fishy jokes in this post. The writer admits to being gillty of making bad puns.