25 November 2011

Deep Sea World - Scotland's National Aquarium

I've always loved the water and the creatures that inhabit it. I find the ocean waves calming to watch and the fish interesting in the way they swim together so when Aisling from Deep Sea World in North Queensferry invited us along for a tour and a chance to see the big sharks we just couldn't say no!

Deep Sea World is located in the picturesque sea side town of North Queensferry, just under the Forth Railway Bridge to be precise. It's easy to find and access with road signs from Fife and Edinburgh guiding you in and a massive car park with plenty of space. You can also get the bus!

There is plenty of disabled access with a ramp for wheel chairs and buggies entering Deep Sea World and inside, the attractions are all on the one level apart from some small raised areas but all have access ramps so brilliant for wheel chair users and kids to get a clear view of all the fish and animals in the tanks. I also found there is plenty of benches around the attrations which is very handy for people who cannot walk far or wish to take a break. My partners grandad has difficulty breathing so this would be perfect for him. He could relax and catch his breath but also still see all the fish.

Ramp into Deep Sea World
Upon entering Deep Sea World you are greeted by a very friendly welcoming reception staff member  who takes your payment before you can enter the main area. Prices vary depending on many factors but the basic pricing is £12.50 for an Adult (15+) and £8.25 for a child (3-14 years). You'll be pleased to know children under 3 years of age get in free and they also have special family and concession prices. I love the fact that they have a Groovy Grandparents price (2 concessions + 2 children) for £36.00 so there's no excuse for the grandparents not to take the kids along and give you a rest. You can visit Deep Sea World's website for a full list of prices.

Main Area - with rock pools and tanks
The atmosphere is set for a watery adventure as soon as you enter with dimmed and coloured lighting as you can see from the photo above. We're standing at the rock pools in this photo which are full of small fish, star fish, anemones and small sharks. As soon as Logan spied the water he tried to climb over the glass and into the tank! Luckily one of the very nice staff members who introduces you to the animals in the rock pools showed Logan one of their star fish although Logan wanted to grab this out of his hands! You've got to remember Logan is only coming up for 2 so still a bit in the mind set that everything belongs to him...

Logan touching the star fish

Logan trying to climb into the rock pool!
There are lots of tanks of fish to see and they also have a reptile room with lots of frogs, some leopard geckos and a breaded dragon which they do a talk on. I noticed all tanks were full and also very clean which is a must for this type of attration. I was informed that all the tanks are cleaned first thing in the morning before visitors arrive. The staff are very passionate and knowledgeable about the creatures within Deep Sea World and it was a delight to watch the bearded dragon being fed, Logan certainly enjoyed it. Myself and my other half found the talks all very informative and definitely interactive with the crowds. Brilliant for kids to get involved and learn something new at the same time. There is a notice board at the start beside the rock pools which has a list of all talks and activities as well as times of when they will be taking place so you won't miss out.

The amazing tunnel
After the rock pools we headed down to the famous underwater tunnel. This by far has to be Logan's favourite part of the day. The tunnel is 112 metres long and holds a million gallons of water - amazing! This tunnel is one of the longest in the world and holds over 1500 animals within. The acrylic holding all the water in (and keeping us safe) is 6.5cm thick but this makes all the sea creatures look 30% smaller than they actually are so you may be thinking the sharks inside are quite small, you'd be wrong, they're huge! Another interesting fact for you is the acrylic used is the same as the stuff NASA use in their space shuttles and each panel of acrylic can withstand the weight of 2 African Elephants so you're in safe hands when travelling around the tunnel.

The massive shark!!
Deep Sea World have their very own shark room too, where they try to educate people on these very misunderstood creatures. They do a lot of conservation work and one which you might have heard of is the Angel Shark Breeding Project. Just recently (only about a week ago really) their female Angel Shark gave birth prematurely to one little pup. Luckily the pup survived and is being kept in a special nursery tank on it's own so it can be supervised so big fingers crossed for this little fella and after speaking to Aisling she thinks it won't be long till the female gives birth to the rest of her brood. These sharks are a critically endangered species so for them to be bred in captivity is a massive achievement. It's the first of it's kind in the UK!

The baby Angel Shark born at Deep Sea World
By now we were all feeling a little peckish so we headed on over to the cafe to grab a bite to eat. First impressions weren't as great as the fish tanks, some of the high chairs for children looked really grubby and dirty and the tables were a bit sticky which was a shame. The food area was clean though and all surfaces where the food was served looked clean and tidy. The price of food was reasonable compared with other attractions across the country costing just over £15.00 for 2 fish and chips with side order (beans, mushy peas etc), plus you got 2 drinks with the meals and we also got Logan a fruit shoot as a treat so not too bad. We brought our own food along for Logan as he can be fussy and no one seemed to mind in the cafe which was refreshing as not all kids like what's on offer. The only thing that let the meals down is that they don't seem to be freshly cooked, our fish was very hard and quite greasy which put me off a little although it did have a lot of flavour.

Logan crawling under the spider enclosure
Deep Sea World is home to not only fish but other sea creatures, these being the Common Seals. The seal enclosure opened in 2005 and can house up to ten seal pups for the one to two months they need to gain weight before being released back into the wild. We loved watching the seals but because it was raining we got rather wet so it would have been nice to have some sort of shelter beside the viewing area, afterall it is Scotland! You can see the resident seals in action below:

Some of the great things about Deep Sea World is that it can be visited any time of year since it's indoors. Like when we went to visit for example, outside it was freezing cold, raining and very windy but inside it was a lovely temperature and most importantly dry. They also have tons of different events throughout the year but one of the best all year round treats is that you can dive with the sharks. It's a brilliant idea and you can even purchase it as a gift to give to someone, what an excellent Christmas Present that would make! You don't even have to be an experienced diver to have a go, they even let kids do it (ages 8-15 years). I would so have loved to do this as a child and I was secretly hoping I'd be asked to jump in beside the sharks on our visit, I can only dream...

Last but not least we were extremely lucky to be show behind the scenes at Deep Sea World. It was all very exciting and we got to have a nosey over the massive underwater tunnel which is just as massive from above. They have small tanks behind the scenes where they keep the fish they have bread at the centre some of which include the deadly pirahnas! I was also told that an educational team travel round schools and centres with a little mini rock pool showing children the sea creatures that live within them.

The underwater tunnel from above
Overall a brilliant attraction, one that is fairly priced in line with other attractions across the country. Staff are friendly, passionate and knowledgeable and there is plenty to see and do. We spent almost 3 hours at Deep Sea World and if Logan wasn't so tired I'm sure we could have been there a lot longer. The only thing that let them down was the Cafe but with a few minor tweaks I'm sure this could be solved. As with any other attraction there is a gift shop and it had tons of different things to choose from so something for everyone.

Mummies rating - 8.5/10
Other Half's rating - 8.5/10
Logan's rating - 10/10

Please visit www.deepseaworld.com for more information. You can also keep up to date with all the latest news from Deep Sea World by following them on Twitter and Facebook. Remember to tell them The Breastest News sent you!

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