Friday 19 April 2019

Sea Life's 20th anniversary party

Eimear O’Connell, Margaret Stevens and Sarah Slazenger.
Eimear O’Connell, Margaret Stevens and Sarah Slazenger.
Wayne O'Connor, Deborah Coughlan, Shay Hiney, Amy Cowan Hedges and Colette O'Loan

Mary Fogarty

Sea Life in Bray held a party last Monday evening to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

The aquarium opened its doors in 1998 on the site of the former National Aquarium.

The party was held for local businesses, local representatives, marine sector partners and current and former staff to celebrate the occasion and to thank the local community in Bray for its support. Minister Simon Harris was among those to attend the party.

In the 20 years that it has operated in Bray, Sea Life has welcomed over 1.8 million visitors. Commenting on this number, Pat Ó Súilleabháin, who has been general manager for the last 16 years, said: 'These visitors, both domestic and international, have made such a fantastic contribution both to the development of the aquarium, and to the local economy. 'Their admission fees have allowed us to deliver world-class animal welfare, engage in research, develop educational programs, and carry out marine conservation work. We are so grateful to each and every one of them for their support over the past two decades.'

The past 20 years have seen some huge changes in the aquarium, both in terms of appearance and the make-up of the animal collection. Initially, the aquarium displayed only native animals. But as the appetite for knowledge about global species grew, so the collection changed.

'Through this change,' said Pat, 'we had the opportunity and privilege to care for some amazing creatures down through the years: giant Japanese spider crabs (2002), black tip reef sharks (2005), giant pacific octopus (2010), leafy sea dragons (2011), and golden puffer fish (2016).'

Today, Sea Life Bray has 26 displays which are home to over 70 different species of freshwater and marine animals from all over the world.

'We are so grateful to the community of Bray for its support over the past 20 years, and we look forward to caring for our animals, seas and oceans over the next 20 years,' said Pat.

Bray People