Southend's Sea-Life Centre welcomes black tip reef sharks
PUBLISHED: 12:16 05 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:40 20 February 2013
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, Southend's Sea-Life Adventure centre has given a new home to its own collection of black tip reef sharks as part of a striking £1 million re-development
IF YOU think moving house is stressful, you should try being a black tip reef shark. After two months of extensive refurbishment during a 1 million re-development, Southends Sea-Life Adventure centre is set to re-open in time for the February half-term break with a fabulous, new tropical shark tank.
Holding more than 195 tonnes of water, the massive tank will become home to black tip reef sharks and an array of colourful tropical fish, including tangs and wrasses, from the Indo-Pacific region. Visitors will be able to walk through an eight-metre-long Perspex tunnel beneath the tank to gain an up-close experience of this ocean life swimming amid a
striking array of coral.
But moving more than 30 sharks during the renovation process was no easy task, as Sea-Life curator David Knapp explains. We ran a pipe between the ocean tank and one on the back of a lorry to minimise any risk of shock for the sharks, says David. Mind you, catching the fish and moving them from one tank to another was easier said than done, especially when youre handling sharks. Although we were using large nets we still had to wait until the tank had drained to a point where we could comfortably stand on the bottom without floating to even stand a chance of catching the fish. The best way to minimise stress for the fish was to get in with them theres no way you can beat them, so you have to join them. It is important to stand in one place to catch the fish and not move around too much as stirring up too much sediment would cause a lot of breathing problems for the fish left in the tank.
As well as the tropical shark tank, there will be new lionfish and moray displays while the restaurant is being extended and will re-open as The Three Shells at Sea-Life Adventure. Also enjoying a dramatic makeover will be the entrance area which will feature a new gift shop and customer welcome desk.
This is the first major development work since Southends Sea-Life Adventure was bought in 2000 by the Stockvale Group, which also operates the nearby Adventure Island.
Stockvales executive chairman, Philip Miller, added: Southend Sea-Life Adventure is the South Easts premier aquatic attraction and we want it to stay that way. Everything we are doing is in order to make a trip to the Sea-Life Adventure even more interesting and enjoyable for our visitors.
In the tank
Blacktip Reef Shark
One of the most common sharks found in shallow water around the coral reefs of Indo-Pacific waters. The tips of the sharks pectoral fin and dorsal fin are black, with a white underside. It can grow up to 2 metres in length and over 45 kg in weight.
These fish belong to the distinctive Acanthuridae (thorn tail) family. Their spines, one or more on either side of the tail, are dangerously sharp. Most species are relatively small and have a maximum length of 15 to 40cms.
Brightly colored, these typically small fish are found on tropical reefs. Most grow to no more than 20cms long.