We are big fans of visiting aquariums as there is something so magical about seeing creatures that live under the sea.
Last month we welcomed a new colony of Fairy Penguins at Weymouth Sea Life Centre and this weekend we were invited to visit Blue Reef Aquarium in Portsmouth to see what they had to offer.
We enjoyed a visit to Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay back in 2013 and the kids still remember putting their hand in a box so see if they could identify what was inside.
Blue Reef Aquarium was a little tricky to find at first as my satnav told me to park at Clarence Pier, when in fact it is situated on Clarence Esplanade, a good 10 minute walk from the pier (to the left if looking out to sea).
Once we found it the kids could not wait to head inside to see over 50 living displays that reveal the sheer variety of life that live in the deep.
The first tank revealed some of the fish that live in waters locally, with plaques on the wall to help the kids identify what they are. Some of the locals include colourful wrasse, crustaceans, sea bass, and triggerfish. The kids were fascinated by the staff waiting patiently with a huge net to catch an undulated ray from one of the tanks.
I have to admit that we have been spoiled with visits to aquariums recently, having been to the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth and Oceanário de Lisboa so I found Blue Reef very tired and dated in comparison.
That being said, it didn’t faze the kids and Eliza especially examined each tank and insisted on identifying each fish she could see by using the wall plaques and Sebby insisted on singing ‘Baby Shark’ to the black tip reef sharks.
There was also a number of aquarium canister filters that was helping fish to breath quite easily. In the middle of the aquarium is an underwater tropical tunnel which offers at great view of the recreated coral reef and some of the fish that would naturally reside there.
Other displays included fish from tropical sharks and stingrays to giant lobsters, elegant seahorses to turtles and even a family of playful otters.
We also spotted my favourite lion fish, a very colourful hermit crab and Nemo and Dory.
We visited on a beautiful sunny day and the real selling point for us was the aquarium’s outdoor Blue Reef Beach Club.
As well as a Splash Park area, which offered stunning views over the Solent, there was also a kids play park, plenty of picnic tables and an outdoor pool where the turtles were also out enjoying the lovely weather.
I think we managed to miss a couple of the keeper talks as the kids were too busy having fun in the sun.
Possibly the highlight of our entire visit was the snapping turtle who took a real shine to Eliza. She kept moving across the tank and he followed her every time!!
Blue Reef Aquarium is not a full day out, but there are lots of other attractions on Clarence Esplanade to enjoy such as Southsea Castle, The D-Day Story and Clarence Pier with fairground rides, a big viewing wheel and arcades.
Tickets to Blue Reef Aquarium cost £10.95 per adult and £8.50 per child (age 3-12), under 3’s are FREE and you can make a saving over just over £1 per person by booking online, in advance.