20 Years…20 Amazing Marine Discoveries! (Part 2)


11th July 2018

Picking up from where we left off in 20th Birthday themed 20 discoveries blog post, here are ten more amazing facts, insights, events, and memories from the past 20 years of the National Marine Aquarium, and global marine science as a whole:

The deepest point of the Ocean is eleven kilometres

The Mariana trench, in the western Pacific Ocean, is a scar along the Earth’s crust where little is known to science. Famously, James Cameron descended to these depths in 2012, in the deepest ever dive in a submersible up to that time. As mentioned in the previous part to this blog, the most remote point in the Ocean doesn’t escape marine pollution, and that’s the same with the deepest point – where extraordinary levels of pollutants were found in amphipods (little crustaceans) as discovered during a study in 2017.

Twelve years since we started our award-winning Sleeping with Sharks Sleepovers

And each sleepover has been as memorable an event as the last. Sleeping with Sharks is an incredible experience for young children, groups, and families as an opportunity to see what happens in the underwater world at night. We have plenty more sleepovers to come this year with the next one on Saturday the 18th of August. Click here for information.

Thirteen species of shark at the National Marine Aquarium???

The National Marine Aquarium is home to the largest collection of sharks and rays in the UK. From smooth-hounds and catsharks in our local exhibits, to massive sand tiger and lemon sharks in our Atlantic Ocean tank! There are plenty more in-between-y sharks to find and discover too. But whether there are really just thirteen species is a little uncertain. Some say there are hidden sharks in the Great Barrier Reef exhibit who only come out during the 2:00 Dive Show on Mondays and Fridays…

Fourteen years since the sinking of Scylla

On the 27th of March, 2004, the former naval frigate HMS Scylla was scuttled and placed on the seabed in Whitsand Bay, south-east Cornwall. The sinking of Scylla marked the end of many years of planning and preparation by the NMA and partners yet the beginning of life on a new artificial reef.
This reef was created primarily as a unique dive destination, as well as the opportunity to study the colonisation of an underwater structure from the very beginning. Artificial reef making is a great way to turn discarded ships into brand new habitats, promoting marine conservation!

Ocean Squad is our amazing club aimed at teens aged between eleven and fifteen!

Ocean Squad is the NMA’s club for all teens who love the marine world. We’ve had some hugely successful and jam-packed sessions. These sessions include snorkelling safaris, exploring restricted aquarium areas, cooking up sustainable seafood meals, and sailing around Plymouth Sound taking part in science experiments, just to name a few! Click here for more information on Ocean Squad.

Our Jawsome Exhibit opened in summer twenty-sixteen

This new exhibit offers an amazing insight into the world of sharks and rays. The redevelopment on this area wraps around our humongous Atlantic Ocean Tank, and showcases many exciting elasmobranchs. With the largest collection of sharks and rays in the UK, there’s no better place to meet awe-inspiring sand tiger sharks, nurse sharks, eagle rays, and more, than here at the National Marine Aquarium. This exhibit also works to relieve the stigma that sharks and rays are threatening and focus on their positive and fascinating qualities, so that we can help conserve these amazing animals.

Seventeen years since Blue Planet was first aired

BBC’s famous documentary series took the world by storm back in 2001 with its incredible footage of never-before-seen marine species, scenes, and situations. Around ten million people watched each episode featuring footage of whales descending into the bioluminescent deep, the world’s largest albatross colony, and the day-night cycle of a coral reef, and that’s just scratching the surface. This led to a heightened public awareness on the world beneath the waves, and inspired many to take action in protecting our Ocean.

There has in fact been an aquarium in Plymouth since the eighteen-hundreds

The history of the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth goes back over 100 years. It was the idea of the Plymouth-based Marine Biological Association (MBA), which is located just around the corner of the National Marine Aquarium on the Hoe. It had offered a small public aquarium since the 1800s, until MBA scientists had a vision to establish a purpose built, national class aquarium in their city that would help ‘to promote a sympathetic understanding of our Oceans to the public.’
The NMA was born from this idea, and has now been spreading Ocean awareness since 1998 for the past 20 years!

Eddystone is a reef situated nineteen kilometres away from Plymouth

One of our biggest tanks  – the Eddystone tank – is representative of a real reef 19 km south of Plymouth. The species within are the same ones you’d find in the deeper waters off the British Coast – like pollack, stone bass, European lobsters, and smooth-hounds to name a few. Our stunning replica of the reef means you don’t have to head so far out to see what it’s like out by the Eddystone lighthouse on the horizon.

Twenty Years of Ocean awareness, conservation, and fun here at the NMA!

It’s been a crazy ride these past 20 years. We’ve achieved so much – from our Sleepovers, Ocean Squads, beach cleans and weddings, to the many conservation projects we’ve supported both nearby and globally. We’ve inspired students from foundation years to university, and delivered thousands of shows and talks about the incredible animals in our Aquarium. Our animals have inspired awe and wonder into our visitors, with the amazing facts and stories they bring with them. Over the past 20 years we’ve bred eagle rays and cow nose rays, researched the wellbeing benefits of aquaria, and granted exceptional care to a turtle who would not have made it in the wild.

We’ve had a blast these past 20 years, so here’s to many more years of connecting with our Oceans!

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