Over the first weekend of April, we were delighted to welcome thousands of people through the doors of our Aquarium for free (for the first time ever), for the launch of the UK’s first National Marine Park, which is happening right on our doorstep in Plymouth Sound.

As the anchor institute for the National Marine Park, it was great to see our Aquarium filled with excitement as communities and residents from across Plymouth celebrated the launch of the National Marine Park’s year-long activity plan. We were delighted to offer something for everyone to help them connect with the Ocean, as we filled the whole of our Aquarium, the National Marine Aquarium, with fun and inspiring stands to bring the Marine Park to life.

We had our Ocean Discovery Rangers on hand to help immerse visitors in Ocean experiences through fun and inspiring talks, feeds and shows. Whilst our Ocean Education Team delivered interactive workshops and immersive virtual reality experiences in our dedicated Learning Centre. It was great to have our whole organisation on hand busking around the building connecting our visitors with the Ocean.

Nick delivering a show in our Learning Centre.

The whole weekend was for collaboration and inclusion, so it was great to be joined by a host of businesses and organisations who showcased how they are connected to the National Marine Park, and the types of activities you can get involved with to engage with the marine environment.

We were also joined by key representatives from each of the National Marine Park partners; including Plymouth City Council, Tinside Lido, Mount Edgcumbe and Mount Batten Watersports and Activities Centre, who hosted a range of special activities to introduce and showcase all that the Marine Park has to offer. It was great to gain views and input from the community, which will be used to help shape the National Marine Park going forward and truly make it the people’s Park in the Sea.

A few lucky visitors won the chance to take part in special behind the scenes activities, from back of house tours to meeting and feeding some of our wonderful animals. We were really excited to offer experiences like these, enabling visitors to establish unique connections with the Ocean, as we know that connecting people with the Ocean is vital to protect Ocean habitats, and making these connections will be an important element to shape the National Marine Park.

Lottie feeding the animals in our Plymouth Sound exhbit.

This was just the first of many events and activities that will take place to engage the communities of Plymouth with the National Marine Park, so keep an eye out for more! But for now, it was a superb event, with a great atmosphere, so thank you to everyone who took part for all their hard work in making it a success. It was fantastic to see so many people experience the wonders of our Aquarium and we hope all our visitors had a wonderful time whilst making their own unique connections with the Ocean.

Roger Maslin, CEO of the Ocean Conservation Trust