Under the Sea… Part 4

Frozen Planet: Face to Face exhibition and my backstage tour…

Frozen Planet: Face to Face – Exhibition

It is hard not to feel cheated by this experience as it did nothing to live up to its billing on the website.

The sea life bills this experience as:

“Cutting edge scent, sound, and visual effects will immerse you in the frozen worlds during your polar expedition. Each interactive stage of your journey will reveal something new: chilly air prickling against your skin as arctic frost grows before your eyes, a deadly brine icicle descending to the seabed, a gigantic orca whale rising from the waves, polar bears roaming the ice and an astonishing display of Northern Lights flickering overhead.”

Yet I do not recall almost any of this actually being true. During my visit, the only thing interactive was the poorly rendered unrealistic polar bear [& cub] and Orca [Killer Whale]. There were no scent or sound effects other than a slightly muffled sound of ice cracking as you first walk into the area. The brine icicle is a video taken from the Frozen Planet documentary and is hardly interactive as it is played on a loop! As a final insult, the part I looked forward to the most [Northern Lights show] was nowhere to be seen! I don’t mean obscured either, I couldn’t see it anywhere.

It’s a shame this is the end of the visit because it spoils a really fantastic journey under the sea. It is every bit possible that seeing as my visit was during the very early days of the experience that it was not fully functioning and, as a direct result, could well be much better a month or two down the line.

Bonus: Behind the scenes tour…

I arrived early but was happy to pass the idol time watching the Rays frolic and glide around in the Ray Lagoon. It was nearly time for my backstage tour you see…

After we all had arrived, the tour guide had led us through a key-pad guarded double door. And immediately warned us of the possible wet floor and rather pungent smell of fish (this has to be expected at an aquarium right?). After that rather welcome warning, Hannah, our guide, led us into the quarantine area; this is an area for their resting, new, and sick animals to rest up and get a little beauty sleep.

In the beginning of the room we were shown some resting starfish, recently hatched rays, and some fish they’d recently received from Belgium [as part of a trade for their spider-crab]. This area was led flawlessly by Hannah and she explained the process behind resting starfish [they’re handled a lot in the aquariums ‘hands on’ rock pool zone] as well as allowing us to handle some discarded ray eggs.

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We were led through the rest of the room which included a food/water preparation area and a rather wonderful collection of newly born seahorses as well as a display of moon jellyfish that was almost ready to be installed in the aquarium. There was a small discussion around the jellyfish section focusing on certain jellyfish species’ ability to live indefinitely.

After this, we were led into an area that contained their eel and coral specimens, as well as some hands on samples of various crustacean shells. The coral tank was of particular interest with me having a slight interest in coral reefs and their abundant species.

As we were led towards the main food preparation area, we saw a retired terrapin, and escaping turtle, some fire-belly newts, and some various other small species not yet on display in the aquarium.

This was a fantastic tour of their main backstage working areas and every inch of our tour was led with an impassioned display of knowledge and enthusiasm. Hannah was extremely capable of handling the average group of people that contained several age groups and was attentive to all of our knowledge levels. Her passion and enthusiasm for the job she does were laid to bare for us all to enjoy and benefit from. I honestly believe that she really made the difference for my trip to the aquarium. Without her passionate and enthusiastic tour, I may have left rather disappointed by the whole experience. But she made the start of the day really special and that sort of unbridled passion really does catch.

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