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National Lobster Hatchery

national lobster hatchery in padstow

National Lobster Hatchery: A Crustacean Adventure Awaits

Nestled on the picturesque quayside of Padstow, the National Lobster Hatchery is a haven for families seeking an educational and interactive adventure into the fascinating world of crustaceans. This unique attraction provides a glimpse into the life cycle of lobsters, from their hatching to their release back into the sea.

national lobster hatchery logo

Getting to the National Lobster Hatchery

By Car

Follow the A389 into Padstow. The park and ride near the rugby ground is good in busy summer periods. Otherwise, head for the car park on the South Quayside by the hatchery. Pay with the Ringo app. Parking in the summertime is always very busy in Padstow. For sat nav use postcode PL28 8BL

By bike / foot

You can cycle the Camel Trail from Wadebridge/Bodmin and as you enter Padstow you will see the Hatchery by Padstow Cycle Hire. On foot, follow harbour right from the Tourist Info, past Rick Stein’s and they are on the waters edge.

Public Transport

There is a bus stop opposite the visitor centre, with regular services from Newquay, Wadebridge and Bodmin.

Entry times and prices

The Hatchery is open 7 days a week from 10am to 5pm. Closed in January. Check the website for dates.

2023 prices are:

Adults: £7.50 | Seniors: £6.50 | Child (5-15): £4.00 |Family: £19.75 (x2 adults x2 children)

It is very helpful that all admission tickets are valid for 12 months.

You can buy tickets online.

Journey into the Lobster’s World

As you enter the hatchery, you’ll be greeted by the sight of thousands of tiny lobster larvae swimming in tanks. These tiny creatures, known as zoea, are just a few millimeters long, but they hold the promise of becoming the mighty lobsters we know and love.

Throughout the hatchery, you’ll encounter different stages of the lobster’s development, from the zoea to the megalopa, the stage just before they transform into adult lobsters. Each stage is marked by distinct physical changes, demonstrating the incredible transformation these creatures undergo.


Hands-on Encounters

The National Lobster Hatchery offers a variety of hands-on activities that allow you to get up close and personal with these fascinating creatures. In the touch tank, you can gently stroke the soft shells of juvenile lobsters, marvelling at their intricate patterns and unique features.

For a more immersive experience, participate in the hatchery’s feeding sessions. Observe as the lobsters eagerly snap up their food, their powerful claws snapping shut with a satisfying crunch. Witness the delicate balance of the hatchery’s ecosystem, where these crustaceans play a vital role in the marine food chain.

Educational Insights

The National Lobster Hatchery is dedicated to educating visitors about the importance of lobster conservation and the delicate balance of marine ecosystems. Throughout your visit, you’ll encounter interactive exhibits, informative signage, and engaging talks that will deepen your understanding of lobsters and their role in the environment.

Learn about the challenges faced by lobster populations, the threats posed by overfishing and pollution, and the efforts being made to protect these marine creatures. Discover the importance of sustainable fishing practices and the role of responsible consumption in ensuring the continued abundance of lobsters.

national lobster exhibit

Family-Friendly Activities

The National Lobster Hatchery is designed to cater to families of all ages, offering a variety of activities to keep the whole group entertained. Embark on a scavenger hunt to uncover hidden lobster facts around the hatchery, or participate in a creative craft session to design your own lobster-themed artwork.

For younger visitors, the hatchery’s Discovery Room provides a safe and engaging space to explore the world of crustaceans. Interactive exhibits, sensory bins, and educational games encourage curiosity and learning, making the hatchery a fun and educational destination for children of all ages.

things for children at lobster hatchery

Adopt a Lobster of your own!

The National Lobster Hatchery runs an “adopt a lobster” program. For £5-£12, you can symbolically adopt a lobster, supporting the hatchery’s work and contributing to the release of these fascinating creatures back into their natural habitat off the Cornish coast.

Your adoption comes with a personalized certificate, a fact file about your chosen lobster, and regular updates on its progress. You can even name your lobster! Through this program, the hatchery not only raises funds for conservation efforts but also fosters a connection between people and these remarkable marine animals.

So, if you’re looking for a unique and meaningful way to support ocean conservation, consider adopting a lobster from the National Lobster Hatchery. It’s a fun and rewarding experience for all ages!

History of the National Lobster Hatchery

The seed of the hatchery was sown in 1992. Lobster stocks in Cornwall were facing decline, and Edwin Derriman, the Chief Fishery Officer for Cornwall, envisioned a solution. His tireless efforts laid the groundwork for the purpose-built facility that opened its doors in 2000.

Initially a not-for-profit company, the Hatchery evolved into a charitable trust in 2004, solidifying its commitment to research, education, and, most importantly, lobster conservation. The facility itself is a marvel of design, seamlessly blending with the harbour landscape while housing sophisticated aquaculture systems and dedicated labs.

The core of the Hatchery’s operations lies in its innovative rearing process. Berried lobsters (females carrying eggs) are collected from local fishermen, ensuring minimal disruption to the wild population. Their precious eggs hatch within the controlled environment of the hatchery, providing a safe haven for the vulnerable larvae. After careful nurturing, these tiny lobsterlings are released back into the ocean, armed with a head start to navigate the challenges of the wild.

Over the years, the National Lobster Hatchery has become a global leader in lobster research and conservation. Their work has not only contributed to the restoration of local lobster populations but also shed light on the complex biology and behavior of these armored crustaceans.

lobster being held in hand

A Coastal Adventure

After exploring the hatchery, take some time to wander around the picturesque quayside of Padstow. Enjoy the fresh sea air, soak up the vibrant atmosphere, and indulge in the local seafood cuisine. From fresh lobsters to traditional Cornish pasties, Padstow offers a culinary adventure that will tantalize your taste buds.

Start your exploration by strolling along the scenic Camel Trail, a disused railway line that provides breathtaking views of the estuary and countryside. Visit the iconic Padstow Harbour, where colorful fishing boats bob in the water, creating a postcard-perfect scene.

Food enthusiasts can indulge in the culinary treasures of Padstow, famously associated with celebrity chef Rick Stein. Sample fresh seafood at his renowned restaurant or explore the local bakeries and cafes for Cornish pasties and cream teas. For history buffs, St. Petroc’s Church and Prideaux Place, an Elizabethan manor, offer a glimpse into the town’s rich heritage.

Outdoor enthusiasts can embark on boat trips or enjoy water sports like kayaking and paddleboarding. Don’t miss the charming shops along the narrow streets, offering unique crafts and souvenirs. Whether enjoying the coastal beauty, savoring delectable cuisine, or immersing in Padstow’s history, this quaint town promises a memorable experience for all.

Padstow Harbour

A Crustacean Haven

The National Lobster Hatchery is a haven for families seeking an unforgettable day out. With its captivating displays of lobsters, educational programs, and family-friendly activities, the hatchery offers a unique opportunity to connect with nature and learn about the wonders of the marine world. Whether you’re a seasoned crustacean enthusiast or a curious newcomer, the National Lobster Hatchery is sure to leave you with lasting memories and a newfound appreciation for these remarkable creatures.

national lobster hatchery sign

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to book online? – No, you can simply turn up and buy a ticket. Buying online beforehand is convenient but not esstential, unless you are taking a large group.

Are dogs allowed at the National Lobster Hatchery? – Yes, well behaved dogs on leads are welcomed.

Is it wheelchair accessible? – Yes, there is good access space for wheelchairs.

How long do I need for a visit? – Most people find that about an hour is right for a trip through the hatchery.

Other Nearby Attractions

When you have been to the National Lobster Hatchery, there are many other places nearby worth taking a look at, including:

  • Tintagel Castle -Under an hour’s drive from Padstow, explore the impressive clifftop ruins of this medieval castle said to be linked with the legend of King Arthur, offering dramatic coastal views.
  • Padstow Harbour – The charming harbour town that hosts the National Lobster Hatchery has winding estuary walks, cosy cafes and outlets of celebrity chef Rick Stein’s famous seafood restaurants nearby.
  • Trevose Head Lighthouse – Walk out to this 19th century striped lighthouse for panoramic coastal views of Stepper Point, Pentire Head across to Padstow Bay and the sandy sweep of Constantine Bay.
  • The Camel Trail – Ideal for walking, cycling or horse riding, the Camel Trail follows the idyllic Camel Estuary from Padstow through Wadebridge and on towards Bodmin Moor.
  • Harlyn Bay – Near to Constantine Bay, this quieter Cornish cove has softer sands, rock pools to explore, a seasonal café and lifeguard plus good surfing waves for beginners.
  • Polzeath Beach – This popular family-friendly Blue Flag beach offers great surfing conditions for more advanced surfers as well as beautiful golden sands and coastal scenery.
  • Newquay Zoo – Get close to endangered animals like lemurs, meerkats and sloths at this zoo around 25 minutes’ drive from Padstow in Newquay.
  • St Merryn – A charming rural hamlet a few miles inland from Padstow with tea rooms, pubs with gardens, nature trails and easy access via the Atlantic Highway.
  • Lanhydrock – Explore the ‘Great House’ at Lanhydrock, surrounded by wooded parkland, herbaceous plantings and a formal garden with views of the River Fowey.
  • Bedruthan Steps – Discover the striking rock stacks and platforms of Bedruthan Steps along the coast, accessible from spacious car parking facilities above the beach.

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