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Plymouth Aquarium

looking at fish in plymouth aquarium

Immerse Yourself in Coastal Marine Life at Plymouth Aquarium

Just a stone’s throw from Plymouth’s historic Barbican harbour, the impressive Plymouth Aquarium lets you discover incredible exotic fish, sharks and coral reef ecosystems under one roof. Walk-through ocean tunnels transport you into tropical underwater worlds filled with shimmering species, providing an unforgettable close encounter with coastal marine life.

With conservation and education at its core, Plymouth Aquarium inspires visitors about protecting fragile aquatic habitats across our oceans. Here’s everything you need to plan an eye-opening aquatic adventure in Plymouth.

plymouth aquarium

Getting There

Plymouth Aquarium occupies a central waterfront location beside Sutton Harbour Marina on the edge of the Barbican historic quarter. Well signed from the city centre, there is metered street parking and an NCP car park nearby.

By Foot

On foot, it’s just a short 5-10 minute walk from Plymouth city centre and train station along the harbourside paths. Follow signs for the Barbican and Sutton Harbour.

By Ferry

You can also arrive via the regular Mount Batten passenger ferry from the Barbican landing stage for beautiful harbour views.

Opening Times and Prices

Plymouth Aquarium is open daily all year round except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day:

  • November to March: 10am – 4pm
  • April to June: 10am – 5pm
  • July to October: 10am – 6pm

Admission prices:

  • Adults £25
  • Children £12.50
  • Under 3s Free

Book online to save up to 20% on walk-up rates. Annual passes are available for local families.

View from outside Plymouth Aquarium

Coastal Species

Covering over 40 naturally themed displays, marine life from Plymouth Sound and beyond are showcased:

  • Local fish – Wrasse, pollack, ling found in nearby waters.
  • Plankton Lab – Microscopic organisms illuminated under special lighting.
  • Coral reef – Colourful species inhabiting tropical reefs.
  • Sharks – Spotlighting conservation of these apex predators like hammerheads.
  • Seahorses – The delicate tails and camouflage abilities of seahorses explained.
  • Penguins – Meet the adorable Humboldt penguins and dive underwater with them!

With so many finned and tentacled residents, you’ll want to allow ample time to explore it all.

more fish

Walkthrough Ocean Tunnels

The aquarium’s pièce de résistance is the walkthrough ocean tunnel exhibits taking you under the water:

  • Shark tunnel – Floor-to-ceiling views as sharks and rays swim overhead.
  • Coral cave – Neon reef fish in a kaleidoscope of colour surround you.
  • Seahorse tunnel full of hundreds of mesmerising seahorses.

It’s an unbeatable opportunity to become fully immersed in the aquatic worlds.

tunnel in plymouth aquarium

Interactivity and Learning

In addition to observation opportunities, Plymouth Aquarium has interactive elements to enrich visits:

  • Feeding times – Learn about dietary needs watching fish dining.
  • Touch pools – Get hands-on with crabs and sea stars.
  • Spotter sheets – Track how many species your detectives can find.
  • Talks and feeds – Scheduled educational presentations.
  • Behind the scenes – Pre-book to help prepare feeds and care for species.

With great emphasis on education, kids come away knowing how they can help protect marine habitats.

Conservation

One of Plymouth Aquarium’s key conservation initiatives is its work breeding endangered species like seahorses, jellyfish, and European eels. Through carefully controlled breeding programs, they are able to boost populations of threatened species. The seahorse breeding program has been especially successful – the aquarium has bred over 2,500 seahorses since 1999! These captive-bred seahorses are used to populate other aquariums or are reintroduced into the wild.

In addition to breeding programs, the aquarium has several habitat restoration and protection projects. Staff and volunteers help monitor and rehabilitate coral reefs, clear garbage from coastlines, and restore seagrass beds. Recently, the aquarium participated in creating Britain’s first ever artificial reef made entirely of eco-friendly concrete. This innovative reef provides a sustainable habitat for many marine species.

Education and outreach is another aspect of Plymouth Aquarium’s conservation work. Interactive exhibits highlight issues like plastic pollution and unsustainable fishing. School programs, events, and the aquarium’s blog all provide opportunities to engage people on how to safeguard oceans. For example, the aquarium hosts beach cleans and has campaigns to reduce single-use plastics.

fish in plymouth aquarium

Facilities and Extras

An onsite restaurant provides quality pub food, snacks and refreshments. Toilets, baby changing areas and accessible facilities cater for visitor needs.

Check out the 4D cinema, gift shop, rockpool experiences and behind-the-scenes tours for add-on options to enhance your visit.

With its excellent conservation work, immersive tunnels and creatively designed habitats, Plymouth Aquarium makes for an eye-opening coastal day out.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are dogs allowed in the Aquarium? – No

Is Plymouth Aquarium wheelchair accessible? – It is very accessible for wheelchair users. Plenty of flat open spaces and lifts give access to all parts of the Aquarium. They have 3 allocatd parking spaces at the back of the Aquarium on Lockeys Quay for wheelchair users.

How many animals are there at Plymouth Aquarium? – There are over 5000 marine animals, making it the UK’s largest aquarium.

Other nearby attractions

There are many great places to combine wit your visit to Plymouth Aquarium. You should consider some of the following:

  • Dartmoor Zoo – Small zoo focused on conservation and education. Get close to endangered animals like jaguars, snow leopards and sun bears.
  • Plym Valley Railway – Scenic steam train rides along the Plym Valley’s tranquil nature trails and riverside paths departing from Plymbridge.
  • Pennywell Farm – Traditional open farm where visitors can feed and interact with chickens, goats, pigs and more. Indoor play areas, tractor rides and activities.
  • Saltram House – Elegant Georgian mansion with impressive interiors and gardens designed by Capability Brown. National Trust property.
  • Plymouth Boat Trips – Scenic cruises around Plymouth’s coastal sights including the breakwater, Mount Edgcumbe House and the River Tamar.
  • Buckfast Abbey – Working Benedictine monastery with medieval church, monk’s herb garden and grounds. Shop sells homemade produce.
  • Royal William Yard – Grade I listed former Royal Navy yard transformed into shops, restaurants and galleries.
  • Mount Edgcumbe House – Scenic country house with impressive grounds, gardens and orangery set across the River Plym.
  • Tinside Lido – Iconic art deco outdoor pool offering scenic swimming on Plymouth Hoe with a cafe onsite.

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