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A New World Class Aquarium for the UK As Merlin Entertainments Reveals the ‘New’ Sea Life London Aquarium

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Today sees the completion of Merlin Entertainments’ multi-million pound transformation of the famous London Aquarium’s into a new world class aquatic experience, and leading centre of marine conservation for the UK.   The new SEA LIFE London Aquarium is home to thousands of marine creatures from Green turtles to six species of shark, spread over three floors and 14 themed zones.  Highlights include the world’s biggest collection of Cownose rays shoaling in perfect synchronised harmony, a gigantic 25m Blue whale skeleton tunnel walkway and a spectacular nerve-testing Shark Walk finale.

Commenting on the completion of the extensive six month project, General Manager, Toby Forer said: “Guests are going to enjoy an Aquarium experience in a whole new league.    Not only are there hundreds of  new marine creatures – including the unique spectacle of over forty Cownose rays –  the displays are dramatic and dynamic and we’ve transformed previously under-utilised space.   The result is an immersive and exciting marine journey in the heart of the Capital – with coral caves, a Pacific shipwreck, a dive school and plenty of opportunities for people to get involved and have fun along the way.  Our ultimate aim is to tell a serious eco story in an entertaining way and we believe we’ve got the perfect blend of visual spectacle, interactivity and access to aquatic experts to make a visit here a truly memorable and thought provoking experience”.

As well as the mesmerising sight of Cownose rays swimming in perfect synchrony, with every movement and change of direction a seemingly perfectly choreographed performance, the new SEA LIFE London Aquarium is home to an awesome glass tunnel walkway allowing guests to take a stroll beneath a tropical ocean with of colourful fish, sparkling coral and Green turtles.   In stark contrast to the vibrant ocean scene, the tunnel has been constructed from a gigantic hand-crafted 25 metre long whale skeleton.  A memorable design feature, the skeleton also has a serious role to play – reminding guests of the vulnerability of the world’s oceans – in danger of becoming marine graveyards without careful conservation.

The new attraction will be at forefront of global marine conservation, encouraging families to consider the issues that impact on aquatic life during their visit but also via lobbying, campaigning and championing SEA LIFE’s high profile Save Our Seas Campaigns – the latest of which has already successfully petitioned to outlaw shark finning in European waters and persuaded the European Parliament to increase protection for the nesting beaches of Mediterranean Loggerhead Sea turtles.    Breeding and research programmes will also be conducted.

Other key features include the story of the River Thames – denoting its location in the heart of the Capital; an Atlantic coastline display , an entire “temple” dedicated to seahorses AND a nerve testing finale that invites guests to stroll over a glass walkway constructed over the enormous Pacific display – home to five different species of sharks, as they swim just inches below.

The SEALIFE London Aquarium will be ‘officially’ opened by Mayor Boris Johnson on 17th April, together with Merlin Entertainments’ Chief Executive, Nick Varney

For further information:   Sally Ann Wilkinson 020 8899 6110/07774 415 372

THE MERLIN ENTERTAINMENTS GROUP is the leading name in location based, family entertainment, which has seen the most successful and dynamic growth of any company in the sector over the last five years.   The world’s second largest visitor attraction operator, Merlin has 58 attractions and six hotels in 12 countries and across 3 continents.   The company aims to deliver memorable and rewarding experiences to its 34.5 million visitors worldwide, through its iconic global and local brands, and the commitment and passion of its managers and 13, 500 employees.   Merlin Entertainments operates the following attractions – SEA LIFE, Madame Tussauds, LEGOLAND, The London Eye, Dungeons, Gardaland, LEGOLAND Discovery Centres, Heide Park, Alton Towers Resort, Warwick Castle, Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures and Earth Explorer.

Merlin is the No 1 global aquaria operator through its SEA LIFE brand.  Merlin’s 30 SEA LIFE attractions welcome more than 10m visitors every year.   They are an ideal, friendly and authoritative guide to the last great frontier…the seas and oceans of the world and their myriad mysterious and amazing inhabitants. Unrivalled display technology, biological expertise and entertainment skills combine to provide seamless journeys through European and tropical waters, and astonishing close encounters with everything from humble shrimps and starfish to seahorses, sharks and stingrays. SEA LIFE champions the cause of marine conservation, through education, awareness and, wherever possible, direct action through its SOS programmes (Save Our Seas) – the most recent of which is SOS Innocent Victims – looking at those creatures caught in fisherman’s nets which are not the primary prey; or which are too small to be valuable but whose unnecessary death impact species’ breeding potential.

Image: photographer/diver and a Goliath grouper (Epinephelus itajara). Michael Patrick O’Neill

See also:
World Leadership through People and Creative Ideas : An interview with Nick Varney, CEO of Merlin Entertainments Group

and also:
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Merlin Tops Fastest Growing PE-Owned Companies in UK for Second Year
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