Blue Reef Aquarium

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Last week, Gavin had some days to use up from his holiday allocation at work and as it was (naturally) wet, windy and miserable, we decided on a whim to head out to the Blue Reef Aquarium.  Our original plan was to go and see Mr. (Bad) Wolf at the Wildlife Park but alas, rain and little Joneses are usually a recipe for soggy chaos.  So, off to Portsmouth we zoomed.  Slowly.  It’s hard to zoom anywhere with two little ones, even though in your head when you imagine your morning, it seems so simple.  The “one bag” you imagine you need turns into three and soon you’re packing like you’re leaving forever.

We arrived to a virtually empty aquarium and before getting to see a single sparkly scale of a flippery fish, Lyoto was hungry and decided to let everyone know it, so he and I nestled into a corner of the aquarium to watch the rays glide by.  Jensen and Gav headed off around the huge tank to explore, climb on platforms and get splashed by some very rambunctious and nosey rays.


With Lyoto sufficiently milk-drunk, we followed the murky path around what was a very unkempt and downtrodden tourist attraction.  Compared to the Sea Life Centre we visited last Summer in Birmingham, it was sadly very dingy indeed.  However, we were having fun and there were a few interesting fish. We started off very well, finding a “Fat Bellied Seahorse”.  I thought Gav was being cruel labelling the poor creature that until I saw the plaque.

One of the main reasons (okay, the only reason) I love to come to aquariums is to see the sharks.  I’m obsessed with them.  Sharks and Crocs.  Apex predators.  My dreams came true in 2008 on our honeymoon when we got to go into the shark tank at Seaworld. Amazing.  My best and most frequently relived memory from that day is turning my head in my divers’ helmet to my left and seeing, out of the murky darkness glide a perfect set of teeth and steely dark eyes towards me.  If I could have wet myself I would have.  I’m fascinated by the toothy creatures.  I’m also a claustrophobic and to get into this tank I had to wear this helmet.  I had a panic attack submerging but all I kept thinking was that I was getting closer to my dream.  I did it.  I’m not sure I could do it again (the helmet, not the sharks).  Below are a few photos from the day.

There’s me, on the left!
Getting into the medical tank, ready to go!
Mmm… Lovely wetsuits.
See that look on my face? Panic.  Not for the sharks,but for that huge helmet they’re about to stick on my head.
In the helmet.  SO heavy.  It was 70lbs or something.
There’s us!


This was my favourite shark.  He had a dislocated jaw (I always fall in love with the poorly ones) but I am sure he was smiling at me 😉
Some of the other inhabitants we were with 🙂


Our lovely shark expert. She kept me calm by answering every one of my sharky questions whilst I was under the water.  We spoke to her through those (scary) amazing helmets as she was on the surface.

After making my dreams come true, the aquariums in England are the only place I can indulge in my love of sharks.  Last summer I got to see Hammerheads up close in Birmingham with Jensen and Gavin.  So, imagine my disappointment when the “shark” display here was two tiny black tipped reef sharks in the smallest, nastiest part of the aquarium they could have been.  I felt so bad for the little guys.  Jensen got excited nonetheless (my boy loves them too!) and kept telling me he wanted to swim with them and putting his arms into the air.  One day, Jensen 😉

There were, however some little eels.  I love these guys, they look so evil.  I kept singing that song that was posted on Facebook a few weeks ago, “When you’re out in the sea and something bites your knee, that’s a Moray…”  I’m so funny I sometimes even make myself laugh 😉  No one else, just myself 😉


Then we saw Flotsam ~ or Jetsam!  Gav was in awe of this one!

These ones remind me of Deuce Bigalow ~ Lionfish.  So beautiful.

Here are more of my favourites, Yellow Tangs.



Lyoto and I had our photo taken here to remind me that we were here too. I always have the camera.  I honestly panic that Gavin might not take enough photos.

I’ve kept fish since I was a little girl.  I’m a bit of a fish geek ~ yet I’m terrified of swimming with fish in the sea.  Sharks, fine.  Fish?  No thank you.  I know there’s no logic there.  It’s just the way I am.  I did go to Discovery Cove on my honeymoon and swim with thousands of them including huge rays, to try and get over it and I hope that’s cured me, but I doubt it.

The next tank got a big wave of excitement from our boy.  “NEMO!”  He yelled.  Indeed it was.



Then we spotted some Spineys from Chorlton and The Wheelies.  If you were born in the 1970s in England, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Then we found some of Gavin’s favourites.



 I was excited when I saw that there was a tunnel.  Tunnels usually hold the biggest and most exciting creatures.  Ah, how wrong we were. But it was fun in any case.  It was empty and Jensen ran up and down about 40 times. No joke.





We made our way out and found some jellyfish in the next bubbles.  So cool.  I’ve never seen them displayed like this before.


I wonder if they were boy jellyfish and girl jellyfish 😉



One of my favourite fish from the day was the Sturgeon.  I bought a mini one of these when I was younger called a sterlitz.  At the time I had a coldwater tank and the seller assured me he would be fine in with my fish.  Little did I know he needed running, brackish water and live food. He died (not doubt in pain) and it broke my heart to have unknowingly caused an animal so much pain.  I was only 14.

Some carp were in the following tank…

Gavin and Jensen join the interesting hair club.

..Piranhas in the strangest photo ever…

Lyoto and I were still here!

Then came the most exciting part of the aquarium aside from the sharks for Jensen.  Ignatius!  Most of you will have no idea what I am talking about.  One of Jensen’s favourite shows on TV for quite some while has been, “Krypto the Superdog”.  In that show is obviously a villain, and this villain has a pet lizard called Ignatius.  As soon as Jensen saw this guy at the aquarium, that was all we heard.  It was him, in the scales (flesh)!


What does Ignatius do? Stick his tongue out, of course!


We had to visit Ignatius about 10 times.


Nearby was an outside lunch area.  It was freezing outside but Jensen still insisted we go out there for a little run around.  We were right on the water’s edge and the wind was C-O-L-D.



I tried to get a photo with Jensen Indiana but he looked like I was kidnapping him.  Nice.

Honestly, this is my child.



Then he saw a little bird.  He loves everything that moves, especially birds.  He wanted so badly to say hello to the little creature but it of course it had no idea but would also not fly away, just kept on running.  And so did Jensen.

 Back inside we found the freakiest frogs ever.  They looked like plucked chickens with frog heads.

Then Jensen found his friend.  A turtle.  Jensen loved him. I think the turtle felt the same.  They held hands, and Jensen even tried to kiss the tank.



It took some convincing to get him away from the turtle but for some reason there were a few more Nemos on the way out and he was happy to go and have another look at them.  Mostly he wanted to know where Dory was.



“DORY? Where ARE you?”





The very last exhibit was a precious one.  Baby rays and sharks in mermaid purses.  We watched these little guys wriggle around like crazy in their cosy baby homes.

At the exit was, of course, the gift shop and Jensen showed how much like his Momma he really is.

We headed out with our new “purchases” and went off to the beach!

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    1. Heather, it was the only way to see my sharks! Believe me, I was more terrified of that helmet than anything. The water rises up to your chin, I thought I was going to suffocate and drown all at the same time!

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