Your Guide to the Aquarium.
This Aquarium displays local marine life caught, mainly as a by-catch by fishermen in the waters around Orkney, while fishing for the commercial species that give them their livelihood.
This by-catch is normally utilised for bait purposes or thrown back into the sea where, because of extended swim bladders, the fish are prevented from swimming away from the surface and stand a good chance of being eaten by the many gulls that follow the fishing boats collecting this discarded catch.
Therefore, many of the animals you see would not have survived if Orkney Fishermen had not taken the trouble to keep them for The Aquarium.
As it is, holiday visitors, schools and local people have the opportunity to appreciate the diversity of sea life that are found around our shores and inspect them at close quarters - With staff providing additional information if they are available.
You may be aware of the different types of fish and shellfish that find their way onto the fishmongers slab but that is, of course, a very small proportion of the different species that live in the sea.
A large number of our animals are not commercial species so you may be unfamiliar with the range of colours and body shapes that can be found in our waters.
The Orkney Marine-Life Aquarium is a small seasonal business with year round running costs.
The Aquarium’s year round running costs can only be met by admission charges, mainly from the relatively small number of summer visitors that come to Orkney.
We show many examples of the local marine life that would not have survived had local fishermen not taken the trouble to look after them and bring them to the Aquarium.
The Aquarium provides an educational resource for Local Schools as well as an attraction for visitors and local people.
If you expect to see large sharks and other large sealife specimens such as you can see in the commercial aquariums close to large population centres that receive millions of visitors every year, you will be disappointed.
If you want a close up encounter with Orkney Sealife that many have enjoyed, we welcome your support.
Making the most of your Visit
The main part of the Aquarium is entered to the left of Reception and consists of 12 large tanks housed within an insulated container formally used as a vivier lorry transporting live Shellfish from Orkney to France, Spain and Portugal. Beside each tank is an information sheet about the contents of the tank. On the walls of the gallery are lots of details of the different species found in Scottish waters and interesting displays with information about Orkney’s Marine Heritage and some of the skills needed to work in a marine environment and the fishing industry.
At the far end of the aquarium is a mock up of a Creel Boat Wheelhouse with Navigation Equipment. At the end of the gallery, just past the sharks jaws and teeth is a feature on the capture in Orkney of the pirate John Gow.
To the right of reception is our sea cave with its rock pool area and tanks of smaller creatures, including a relative of the seahorse, the pipefish, Dublin Bay prawn, Scallops and Baby Lobsters.
When available Staff will help you identify all the creatures and introduce you to some of the friendly - and not so friendly inhabitants!
If you or members of your group have a special interest in Net Making or Knots and Lashings please make this known to a member of staff and demonstrations can be arranged.