After the awesomeness of the 20BooksEdinburgh conference, I’d planned a mini-break, which began with the weather breaking (summer had been in incredibly full swing throughout the conference, with temperatures in the high 20s – very rare for Scotland!), so I chose my planned indoor option – a visit to Deep Sea World.
It’s been a few years since I visited, and to be honest not much has changed, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive. From the official website:
“At 112 metres long the Underwater Safari at Deep Sea World has the longest moving walkway in Europe. The exhibit holds a million gallons of sea water, making it the largest temperate marine exhibit in the UK and one of the longest underwater safaris in the world.”
Walking through the underwater tunnel (or rather standing on the moving walkway) is an amazing experience. I’m not good with being under things (mild claustrophobia), but this is comforting:
“The arched shape of the acrylic gives the tunnel the strength to hold back the enormous weight of millions of litres of water. In fact, the acrylic is the same material used by NASA in space shuttles and each panel of acrylic can withstand the weight of two African elephants!”
But let me start at the beginning!
Deep Sea World is located underneath the iconic Forth Rail Bridge, on the north side of the Firth of Forth, at North Queensferry
The car park is right alongside some of the pillars supporting the end of this amazing bridge, which has become the basis for the English idiom, “It’s like painting the Forth bridge!” referring to an endless task. Until recently, with innovations in modern paints, this was true – the bridge took so long to paint, that once the end was reached, workmen had to start immediately back at the beginning and do it all over again.
(Andrew Shiva / Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 4.0)
Here’s what it looks like from close up
(Sounds like someone didn’t relish their visit!)
You it’s down, down, down, into the bowels of the earth…
Well, not quite, but certainly down!
Inside, there is a lovely café (always a good starting point), and then an exhibit hall, with lots of varied sea life and amphibians (lots of poison dart frogs – so small I couldn’t get a decent picture of any!). Here’s a small selection.
One of my favourites has always been the octopus – he used to be in a tank with a series of small aperture holes, and watching him squeeze through was one of the highlights of the visit. Now, he’s in a rather less interesting tank (from my perspective) but perhaps its better for him.
Considering he spends much of his time just sitting around, I was thrilled to get this action sequence
Then there are piranha – and no, that lady isn’t inside the tank!
And sea horses – ahhhh…
That’s just a tiny selection, but this was during a school holiday, and the place was swarming with small children, so I didn’t linger!
Onward, then, to the main feature, and remember: “the curvature of the 6.5cm thick acrylic makes everything appear about 30% smaller than it actually is. So when you see our large sharks, just imagine how big they actually are!”
We chose to go at feeding time, and as you can see above, so did all the other visitors!
Feeding does, of course, entail divers getting into the tank and feeding the sharks by hand – doesn’t everybody do it that way????
I think they’d been over-feeding them, as the divers really struggled to get the sharks’ interest.
There are lots of other fish in there, aside from sharks: rays
So after going all the way round a second time (it’s worth it, especially once the crowds thin out), it was back upstairs and outside, to the seal pool in time for the interactive session.
There are 3 seals, an older female and two younger siblings, all rescues, and they clearly love to entertain.
That’s it for now – I hope you enjoyed your virtual visit to Deep Sea World, Edinburgh? I have a couple more posts to share from this wonderful short break, with some magical images I’m looking forward to sharing with you – see you back here again soon.