At the time of writing this, all UK aquariums have been forced to close by the government indefinitely. 

Our Aquarium is the largest in the UK and can cost up to £10,000 a day to run. Over a normal summer, our charity is able to cover these costs with ticket sales, but with our income now on pause for the foreseeable future, we urgently need the government to clarify when we can reopen to enable us to plan for the future.

Aquariums aren’t just tourist attractions; we also play an important role in Ocean conservation, education and research.

Normally, during the summer months, we would be welcoming and inspiring thousands of visitors, but instead, we are now facing a challenge to survive.


Even when closed to the public, the cost of operating the largest Aquarium in the UK remains up to £10,000 a day. As an Ocean conservation charity, we rely on visitors to the Aquarium not just to fund our operating costs, but also vital habitat restoration and behaviour change programmes.

The Government has set dates for zoos and safari parks, and indoor non-essential outlets like IKEA and Primark to reopen. Despite the fact these kind of stores are often narrow aisled, so social distancing can be hard to maintain. With this in mind, we would like to highlight the measures we have implemented to ensure a safe, socially distanced and of course, fantastic day out.

We have implemented extensive safety measures to ensure all who visit us a calm and relaxing experience. As the largest aquarium, we have plenty of floor space for everyone to spread out into and will be making sure that our popular talks and shows are available to download on our free WIFI, so that people can watch and learn as they journey around our Aquarium and the world’s Ocean.

Other measures that have been put in place include:

  • Hourly time slots to limit capacity, 
  • Huge reduction in daily tickets available to limit visitor numbers, 
  • Installing more washing areas and hand sanitiser stations, 
  • Increasing the cleaning of exhibit areas and toilets, installing markers in front of exhibits to help people to socially distance
  • Making the Aquarium route a one-way experience. 

Many of the challenges that face zoos are similar to aquariums, but as mainly indoor attractions, it may take longer for the public to feel confident and safe enough to visit their favourite fish. 

Sadly, every day without visitors puts yet more pressure on our already stretched charitable finances. At the right time, we need the government to robustly reassure the public that aquariums and other indoor attractions like museums and cinemas have been made safe to visit and that they can do so without fear.

Government clarity will mean we can plan for the future, not just for our Aquarium but for a healthier Ocean for all.

We want to open only when it is safe for you to visit, but getting clarity on the date would boost team morale and provide a more positive outlook for our Aquarium and its future.

How can you help?

  • Write a letter to your local MP
  • Donate to support our animals here: Donate
  • When we have a date to reopen, come and visit us!

The best way to support our charity is to visit us when we are allowed to reopen. When we know the date, please purchase a ticket and visit our Aquarium.

The National Marine Aquarium (NMA) is the UK’s largest aquarium, located in Britain’s Ocean City, Plymouth. It is run by the Ocean Conservation Trust, a charity dedicated to connecting people with the Ocean.

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