If you had have told me that this year I would be swimming or snorkelling with sharks I would have told you, you were mad.
There is no way anyone in his or her right mind would do this, right? And when Joe got offered the chance to be a shark keeper for the day at Sea Life Blackpool he was beyond thrilled. And I was thrilled for him.
He would be able to spend the day at the Sea Life in Blackpool helping out the marine biologists behind the scenes. Getting the opportunity to feed the sharks. But also find out more about conservation. And fulfil a lifelong dream of snorkelling in a shark tank. This is the perfect family day out in Blackpool with a difference.
And I would happily trail along taking photos of the day recording it all for Joe. Wrong again. You see, because Joe is 12 he can take part in this wonderful day but he had to be accompanied by an adult. Makes sense really doesn’t it? I just never thought it through. So now came the problem, do I let Joe down, because I am never, ever, going in a tank with sharks? Or do I get over myself and go for it? And that is exactly what I decided I was going to do. Wow, I am so glad I made that decision.
What is involved in the Shark keeper day at the Sea Life Blackpool?
The day costs £150 per person, for this price you get to take part in the following;
- Behind the scenes tour by an Aquarist and introduction to Health & Safety procedures
- Food preparation
- Water temperature checks
- Quayside fish feeding
- Shark feeding
- Snorkel with Sharks
- Challenge the Octopus – interact with these playful creatures
- Certificate presentation and photograph with fellow Aquarist
- Includes a family ticket for friends and family
And £5 from the purchase of every ticket is donated to the SEA LIFE Trust.
The behind the scenes tour gives you an amazing insight to the work Sea Life do.
Our guides Mike, Mathew and Jennifer were incredible. I expected a wander round looking at fish. Something I really never used to get excited about. But passion is infectious and the passion they have for their jobs blew my mind. This is not just a job; the marine biologists have all studied years at university. As a result Sea Life Blackpool has a team of passionate and committed staff.
Mike told us about many of the projects he is currently working on. It made me realise that although we may see Sea Life as a place to go and look at fish, to study their habits. And yes this is a tourist attraction. But the main motivation of the team is to research and breed endangered species.
Did you know?
Facts About Sea Life Blackpool
Seahorses are 15 years away from extinction, and that 1% in every 1000 eggs survives in the wild, as oppose to 4% in captivity.
Many of the animals have been rescued from pet shops and Zoo worldwide.
Every animal/fish taken on by Sea Life has a full life plan tracked out for them before they commit. This ensures as they grow their habitat grows.
Lulu the Green Sea Turtle is currently living at Blackpool whilst her tank at Brighton is given a makeover. She is 79 years old and will live till around 300 years. And was initially rescued by the Blackpool Tower in the 1940s from a company using her for marketing, and she was a pretty sorry state. She has been restored to health and cared forever since.
The staff at Sea Life work on a call out system, if the oxygen levels goes down in the tanks during the night someone will come out no matter the time to resolve the problem.
Sharks deliver their young and swim away, in captivity they would eat them if they were not immediately removed.
These guys care about the animals/ fish in their care. They know them by name, record every meal and even rotate fish if they do not get on with another. It’s all about finding a happy environment for each fish.
Sea Life has also developed the Sea Life trust a charity committed to improving conditions in the sea worldwide.
And is working on projects such as plastic reduction. And is looking at ways of using waste plastic collected and recycling it. The trust is also working on educating fisherman and rebuilding coral reefs in the Maldives to promote healthy seas.
And did I snorkel with the sharks?
I did! And I still can’t believe it. After we had prepared the shark food Joe was able to feed them. As I stood watching from the top of these huge tanks and checking out the net cage we would go down I felt quite sick. Especially when you see the ferocity the sharks full the fish off the stick as it is offered into the water. But here is the key, sharks do not eat much and we had just fed them.
This is what I kept telling myself as I climbed down the steps into the tank. Practicing yoga breathing techniques to keep my breath stead and heart rate even. There is a strict rule that you do not touch the animals. To be honest I did not need telling, however this is for the safety of the animals as much a visitors. The experience is all about observation and not interference.
We stayed in for about 20 minutes, watching the sharks and other marine life swim by. Joe ferociously waving at people walking through the tunnel, feeling somewhat like a celebrity.
So yes we did it, we did snorkel with sharks. But more importantly I learnt a LOT.
And the biggest thing I brought away from the day is that these guys genuinely care. They are passionate about conservation and preservation. They have strong views on what is right and wrong. And were committed to putting right years of damage, researching ways of reducing plastics and introducing breeding programmes so that generations ahead of us can still see seahorses, sea turtles, and certain breeds of rays in the wild.