Educational day out: Exploris, Northern Ireland

by Emily

Did you know that you could go and see rescued seals close-up in Northern Ireland?

Exploris (formerly the Northern Ireland Aquarium) plays home to lots of injured and abandoned seals and forms a base for them in which to be treated and recuperate. Part heart-rending, part inspiring, this little seal sanctuary is just one of the highlights of the aquarium, which is located in the conservation village of Portaferry.

Portaferry sits on the shores of the Marine Nature reserve of Strangford Lough, which contains more than 70 per cent of all of the marine species in Northern Irish waters - making it the ideal place to see and learn about an amazing array of sea life. Take a tour of the discovery pools to observe rays, starfish and sea urchins close up - experienced guides will be able to tell you all about the creatures.

The open sea tank holds an impressive 250 tonnes of sea water and is where you'll find lots of deep water creatures, from household favourites such as cod, turbot and halibut to more scary examples like sharks and conger eels. You can even watch as Exploris divers swim around the tanks feeding the sharks and congers!

Depending on the time of year, you can also go on an accompanied shore walk where you'll get to see animals in their natural habitat along the coast.

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