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REVIEW: The National Sea Life Centre, Birmingham

Main entrance to the CentreWritten by Lorraine from the Toddle About Team. We would like to thank The National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham for the invitation to visit their centre, I went along with my family and had a really wonderful day and we had an added extra with the exclusive Octonauts Octo-Glow Explorers event that is currently running up until the 13th August, where children get to become an Octo-Glow Explorer and take part in a range of interactive activities to help discover how creatures from the deep use light to hide from predators, attract their prey and even talk to each other. You then get to share your findings in the Octo-Glow Lab during an Octo-Glow Explorer character meet and greet! My son Joey had been asking me on a daily basis when was he going to see the fishes, so when the day finally came he was very excited and when we arrived his little face lit up, he really didn't know where to look! I didn't really know what to expect from our visit as it has been a few years since I have visited a Sea Life Centre, however, upon entering the building I just knew that we were going to have a good day.  The staff were extremely helpful and there were plenty of them on duty so there wasn't much waiting to be served on the day we visited and everything seemed to run nice and smoothly. The centre is spread out over 3 floors which is all connected by ramps and walkways so it is perfect for pushchair and wheelchair access. I was very surprised at how much there was to see and how many different species of fish there were, all different shapes and sizes and plenty to see along with Penguins (my personal favourite) and Otters. [caption id="attachment_2400" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Penguins and Small Fish The Penguins and the Nemo Fish were a particular favourite of mine and Joeys[/caption] Joey loved being able to walk along by some of the big tanks that had glass sides and was able to see the fish swimming past him, however, wasn't too keen of the very large fish when they swam past as some of them seemed almost as big as him and maybe a little bit daunting for a little person! We found that there was plenty of information boards around the centre so that you could find out all about the fish rather than just looking at them, which was very helpful and interesting.  We also had the Behind the Scenes Tour which was 25 minutes spent with an expert guide exploring the animal care area and also learning about how they look after all the fascinating creatures which was very interesting! [caption id="attachment_2401" align="aligncenter" width="475"]Octonauts and Behind the Scenes The Octonauts Event seemed to be a great hit with the children.[/caption] On finishing our time in the centre, we walked through an amazing tunnel where a vast array of creatures swim all around and over you which is absolutely amazing especially as part of the tunnel was completely clear so you could see beneath your feet as well. Some of the Sting Ray and Shark were a pretty impressive size and one actually made me jump when it swam past me all of a sudden, to say Joey didn't know where to look was an understatement, it was just fascinating.  You do need to be prepared to spend a bit of time making your way through the tunnel as people do take their time walking through it, which they quite rightly should as it is just wonderful. [caption id="attachment_2402" align="aligncenter" width="500"]The Tunnel The tunnel was just amazing to have all the different fishes swimming right around you.[/caption] After we made it through the tunnel, we ended up in the shop, which has a wide variety of toys and gifts at very reasonable prices, so it gives the little ones a great opportunity to spend any pocket money they may have saved up. All in all, we had a really wonderful day and what helped as well was, there is plenty of parking, with the multi story car park at the Barclaycard Arena which is just a 5 minute walk over the canal bridge and there are also a wide range of eating establishments around the centre where you can top you energy levels up or even take a little picnic and sit by the near by fountains, which on a nice sunny day are lovely. I would highly recommend a visit to the centre if you are looking for something different to do with the children over the Summer Holidays.