The Northern Ireland Aquarium Celebrates 25 Years
7th February 2012
Exploris Aquarium will be celebrating a milestone birthday this year. After 25 years in operation Exploris - The Northern Ireland Aquarium will host a number of special events throughout the year.
The Northern Ireland Aquarium was opened by Ards Borough Council in 1987 to enable the public to view the amazingly diverse marine life that exists around our coastline.
The conservation village of Portaferry was chosen as the ideal location. It is sited on the shores of the Marine Nature reserve of Strangford Lough which contains nearly three quarters of all the marine species to be found in Northern Irish waters.
As a result of the enormous popularity with both visitors and education groups the aquarium was extended and re-themed in 1994, re-opening as Exploris.
Over the years Exploris has witnessed many significant developments which have kept it firmly lodged within the top ten paying tourist attractions in Northern Ireland, the most notable of which was the opening of the new purpose built seal sanctuary in 2000. Exploris has now rescued and cared for well over 300 seals since 1989 when rescue work started in a garden shed! As Tania Singleton Exploris Seal Rehabilitation Officer Reflects:
“Our seal rescue work started when a member of the public contacted the aquarium regarding a young grey seal pup found on a local beach. After being assessed and observed for a period, it became apparent that it needed help. At that time there were no seal rescue facilities in Northern Ireland so, after seeking advice, the seal was cared for at the aquarium. Initially we made do with a garden shed and the seawater pool at the entrance to the aquarium. As word spread of our rescue work, we started receiving more and more calls about seals and soon we were rescuing seals from around the whole of the Northern Irish coastline. Our limited facilities, however, meant that we could not cope with the increased numbers and it became clear that a purpose built rescue centre was essential in Northern Ireland. Ards Borough Council, Northern Ireland Electricity and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board provided funding, and the sanctuary opened its doors to its first inmates in December 1999.”
As a unique educational and entertaining day out, Exploris has welcomed close to two million visitors through the doors. As the primary education platform on underwater life in and around our waters Exploris has been instrumental in providing informative and interactive events and educational programmes for school groups, families, special interest groups, tours and Eco warriors who are interested in learning more about the underwater life and supporting this unique resource.
To mark the occasion of its 25th Birthday, the aquarium is organising a number of events with wide appeal throughout the spring and summer including:
Pirate Week at Exploris
15th – 19th February
Easter Family Fun
7th – 15th April
Cool Seas Roadshow & Whale Workshop
5th – 7th May
Big Birthday Bonanza!
2nd – 5th June
Throughout July, August and September
For further Information please visit www.exploris.org.uk or contact
Helena Challinor – Exploris General Manager on 028 4272 8062
Or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors:
1. Exploris is a fully accessible Ards Borough Council tourism facility.
2. All children must be accompanied by an adult.
4. For opening times and admission prices on Sunday 5th February, please visit www.exploris.org.uk or Tel: 028 4272 8062, fax: 028 4272 8396 or email email@example.com
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