The Motor home
The Motor home
I recently spent a few days in the motorhome in Hunstanton, Norfolk and with the weather being wet, miserable and dank I had the perfect excuse to go and visit the Seal Life Centre. Hunstanton Seal Life Centre had been in the paper a few days before the trip to Hunstanton, and unfortunately it was for the wrong reasons. The press had managed to get hold of some report on some investigation carried out in 2015/16 on the high mortality rate of the fish and marine life across all Sea Life Centres owned by Merlin Entertainment, of which the Hunstanton Sea Life Centre is one. The report was pretty damning, as you’d expect, and the press had sensationalised it and invited some hard core extremist animal rights group to make a comment. I thought the Animal Rights representative gave a biased and one-sided view of the situation and I wanted to check it out for myself.
Hunstanton Sea Life Centre is located just off the promenade right on the sea front and it is very easy to find. I had been led to believe the Hunstanton Sea Life Centre is a full day’s entertainment so I was very surprised at how small the site is. I was not overly impressed at first sight and I had my doubts that I would be entertained for the entire day. Once inside the building it was confirmed the Sea Life Centre experience would last a couple of hours at the very most.
The standard adult ticket price is £15.90, which I think is very expensive for what it is. If you book the tickets online you can save 40%, reducing the ticket price to £9.90, which is still expensive but far better than £15.90. I didn’t have the chance to book online but U still managed to get a reduced price ticket as I was staying at Searle’s campsite. Another way to get discounted entry to the Hunstanton Sea Life Centre is to buy promotional packs of chocolate and these are available in all major supermarkets. It is very easy to get discounted entry to the Hunstanton Sea Life Centre, which kind of suggests the standard admission price is far too high and those people that don’t manage to book online, find some promotional packs of chocolate or stay at Searle’s Campsite are going to apy through the nose. Yep, the people that don’t plan a visit and simply turns up off the cuff is going to get stung.
The Hunstanton Sea Life Centre is clean and tidy inside but it does look old, tired, a little ramshackle and in need of modernising and a bit of TLC. Entering the holding area didn’t have the wow factor and it was a little disappointing which was a shame.
There are information boards around the Sea Life Centre giving information about some of the fish in the tanks. The information was interesting but it wasn’t very useful because it covered only some of the fish species and you had to identify the species in the tank yourself. The tanks weren’t clearly labelled and identifying the fish species was difficult in some tanks and impossible in others. Being a bit of a fish fanatic I know what several fish species look like so I could decipher it, but there were other people looking around the tanks who seemed confused and perplexed at what they were looking at.
There is no specific theme with regards to the fish species on show and it is a total “mish-mash”. Being in the UK I was expecting there to be species of fish from the UK such as cod, haddock, Pollock, conger eels, wrasse, bass, smooth hounds, dog fish, mackerel, plaice, flounders, dabs, whiting etc. but there were none of these that I could see. Strange how the fish we find on our door step and around the UK aren’t even on display.
Some of the tanks are clearly labelled up with what’s inside, and it was interesting to know about those species and actually know what they look like. The highlight of the Hunstanton Sea Life Centre is the ‘under water tunnel’ where you can look up and see various species of fish, as well as a few small sharks swimming above you. There is also a sea turtle in the tank just for good measure. This part of the visit was good, but considering it is meant to be the “highlight of the show” I have to say I was disappointed and was less than impressed. I would go so far to say I felt cheated.
In some tanks there were roach, barbel and carp and I could not understand what they were doing there. I was in a Sea Life Centre and I was looking at freshwater species of fish! It doesn’t make sense and is totally irrelevant.
As much as I was surprised seeing freshwater fish I was even more surprised to enter a room containing a handful of rescued snakes, geckos and amphibians together with a display of random army ants. I was in a Sea Life Centre, I had paid to look at (and learn about) marine life and here I was looking a land dwelling animals that aren’t native to the UK! Yet again, this is another irrelevant display that made no sense at all.
As well as fish there is a penguin display, or so I am led to believe. This was closed for refurbishment during my visit so I didn’t get to see what this was like. From what I have heard from others the penguin display has been closed for refurbishment for several months, and there are whispers that it isn’t coming back, although this is only speculation.
At the back of the main building is the seal rescue centre and also the otter pool. There’s not a lot to say about the seal rescue centre, other than it does a great job, and as for the otter pool I can’t see the point of this as they weren’t even sea otters.
The Hunstanton Sea Life Centre is not a full day out, and I think you’ll struggle to make the experience last for more than two hours. I took my time during my visit, I read every information board, I read all the information screens, I looked in every tank and I spent a long time observing the fish, taking photos, capturing video footage and soaking it all up. Once I had seen everything I went back to the start and re-visited many tanks to get more photos and video footage. Even going back to the start and taking my time I still only managed to make my visit last just short of 90 minutes. Hardly a day’s entertainment is it?
Overall the Hunstanton Sea Life Centre was a huge disappointment and a total waste of money. Going to a Sea Life Centre and not seeing UK sea fish was a big disappointment. Going to a Sea Life Centre and seeing freshwater fish was a big disappointment. Going to a Sea Life Centre and seeing a few land dwelling reptiles and insects was a big disappointment.
Some of the water life (and also land) in Hunstanton Sea Life Centre
Best watched in HD quality.
About the author
A total motor home newbie with a six year camping background in a folding camper. A keen blogger sharing my experience of researching, choosing, buying and owning a motor home. and every thing that goes with it.