Zone 9 – Sea Dragon Kingdom:
With a somewhat mythical aesthetic, seahorses and seadragons are genuinely some of the most graceful creatures in the oceans. The sea life aquarium website states that you’ll “see seahorses gripping sea grass with their tails”. This is remarkable feature is exactly what they were all doing when I visited.
I think what makes this section special is that the Sea Life Trust works to protect seahorse habitats and also runs a breeding program, the proof of which I saw on my backstage tour, and this aquarium is a great place to see some of those protected species up close…
Zone 10 – Rainforests of the World:
From piranhas, catfish, and poison arrow frogs to the behemoth that is ‘spice’, the aquarium’s resident Cuban crocodile, this zone offers some of a unique species in a very authentic looking area.
This zone looks and feels different to the others, the humidity is higher and there is an abundance of greenery and freshwater species. A definite highlight is a big-eyed piranha, their menacing teeth hidden from plain sight. They just seemed to float there, staring. It was a little unnerving.
Their website mentioned poison dart frogs ‘leaping’ but on my visit, there were none that I could find. Which was a shame as some are truly colourful? The crocodile unsurprisingly steals the show, but a surprising second place is the biggest catfish you’ve ever seen. I never saw its entire body but it looked huge and it’s extremely clear why it’s mentioned on the sea life website.
Zone 11 – Thames Walk:
This was an interesting, if brief, zone where you can learn about the Thames River’s past, present, and future. Whether it’s a species that lives in the river itself or the steps being taken to keep the river as clean as possible; this zone has all the information you never thought you wanted to know. It’s also an insightful, as well as informative look at a marine ecosystem right on the aquariums figurative doorstep…
Zone 12 – Penguin Point: Closed during my visit.