Third of animals die at Norfolk Sea Life centre in one year

A third of animals at Great Yarmouth Sea Life Centre died in the space of a year, a BBC report has r

A third of animals at Great Yarmouth Sea Life Centre died in the space of a year, a BBC report has revealed. Photo: Antony Kelly - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2007

More than a third of marine animals died at Great Yarmouth Sea Life Centre in the space of a year, a report claims.

Figures obtained by the BBC through a freedom of information request reveal that 812 of the 2,293 animals at the centre died in 2015-16.

Merlin Entertainments, which owns Sea Life, attributed some of the losses at the Great Yarmouth centre to a “technically complex” water problem.

The full figures show a total of 4,500 creatures died across eight centres in the UK during 2015-16, with around a fifth of animals dying in the Hunstanton centre.

A Sea Life spokesperson said: “Sea Life places the very highest priority on the welfare of the animals at its sites, which are supported by experienced animal care teams, marine biologists and world-renowned veterinary consultants.

“Sea Life has a strong track record in animal husbandry and complies with all the laws and regulations under the Zoo Licencing Act. Furthermore we take an active role in promoting conservation, playing a leading part in rescue and rehabilitation and breeding select species at our facilities.”

The Marine Conservation Society initially suggested it would be reviewing its sponsorship of Sea Life but has been encouraged by the company’s response to the report.

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A spokesperson for the Marine Conservation Society said: “The response we’ve seen from Sea Life to the figures reassures us to some degree. In particular, the incidents of high mortality appear to be the result of unforeseen problems which the chain has taken steps to rectify.

“There are still questions over the keeping of some species which are unproven in their suitability to being kept in captive conditions, and we would like to see a more robust set of record-keeping maintained by public aquariums to demonstrate that they give the specimens in their tanks care and attention as a matter of routine.”

Great Yarmouth-born conservationist, broadcaster and teaching fellow at Anglia Ruskin University, Dr Ben Garrod, said: “At a time when more people are heading to Sea Life centres after the success of Blue Planet II, there is surely an obligation to ensure that both education and conservation messages and the overall health and welfare of the animals is paramount in these centres.”