Exploris The Northern Ireland Aquarium

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discovery pools
CLICK HERE - discovery pools :: feel and touch for an amazing aquatic experience

seal sanctuary CLICK HERE - seal sanctuary :: watch the seals in and out of the water

Tour Of Exploris  :  NIE Seal Sanctuary

The sanctuary is a purpose built facility for the rescue, rehabilitation and release of orphaned, injured and sick common and grey seal pups.


Our seal rescue work started in 1989 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 some seal pups had to be transported to the RSPCA Wildlife Hospital in Norfolk. 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 in autumn 1999.


The sanctuary comprises six hospital pens, food preparation room, nursery pond and large pond with underwater viewing area.

Returning to the wild

The sanctuary is at its busiest during the two pupping seasons. Common seals are born during June and July and grey seals between September and December. Our aim is to release all our rescued seal pups back into the wild.

This means that at certain times of the year there are no seals in the hospital.

If you are particularly interested in viewing the seals, please call ahead for more information regarding their availability.

Seal Cam

Use the Seal Cam to watch the seals in the ponds.

Download real player.

Aquarium Plan
Species Database
Seal Sanctuary
Tides Cafe
Splash Out Shop
Nie Seal Sanctuary
Nie Seal Sanctuary

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