The SEA LIFE London Aquarium is home to one of Europe’s largest collections of marine life. You’ll find more than 500 species from around the world at this enthralling attraction, which opened in 1997 and draws around a million visitors a year.
The aquarium’s 14 themed zones are home to sharks, turtles, clownfish, octopus, penguins, rays, lobsters, jellyfish, piranhas, crocodiles and seahorses. Many of the creatures are endangered species and are part of breeding projects, or have been rescued from danger in the wild.
There’s an enormous amount to explore on the South Bank too, from shops and restaurants to attractions including the London Dungeon, the London Film Museum and the London Eye. So book one of our hotels near the London Aquarium and discover this brilliant part of the capital at your leisure.
Things to do
You can learn more about many of the creatures, including penguins, seahorses and octopuses, at daily talks and feeds. You can handle the creatures in the touch pools, and sometimes there’s a chance to help with feeding too.
The Shark Reef Encounter takes you along a glass walkway inches above the shoal of sharks underneath. Then you’ll move onto the Shark Academy, where you can learn more about the creatures and even touch shark skin. For the really brave, there’s also the option of snorkelling amid the sharks.
The Penguin: Ice Adventure experience has been designed to look and feel like a research station in the Antarctic and features images, footage and equipment donated from a working station. Here you’ll see the penguins in a recreation of their natural habitat, and learn about how they live and the threats they face. The area also houses a number of other Antarctic creatures, such as spider crabs.
You can also explore areas usually closed to the public on a 45-minute behind-the-scenes tour. You’ll learn more about the aquarium’s breeding, research and conservation programmes and see how the animals’ food is prepared.
The aquarium is on the South Bank of the Thames, near the London Eye. If you’re coming by public transport, the nearest train and Tube stations are Waterloo and Westminster. From Waterloo, take the exit for the South Bank and walk towards the London Eye, or from Westminster, take exit 1 onto Westminster Bridge and cross the bridge. Plenty of buses also stop at the South Bank.
If you’re coming by car, you can park at the Royal Festival Hall or underground at Waterloo station. The aquarium is within the congestion charge zone.
The aquarium and its parent company SEA LIFE are heavily involved in conservation, working with a number of charities and supporting a number of international projects and campaigns. Seals, seahorses, whales, dolphins, sea turtles, crocodiles, sharks and rainforest animals are just some of the creatures the aquarium is helping. Here you can see butterfly goodeids, a fish thought to be extinct in the wild, which breeds at the aquarium. It was also one of the first places in the UK to display Cuban crocodiles, of which only between 3,000 and 6,000 remain in the wild.
Some 40,000 schoolchildren come to the aquarium every year and it has two education rooms where children can learn about conservation. It also runs workshops for schools.
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