Placed at the juncture of the North Sea, the Atlantic with the Gulf Stream, and influenced by the Arctic Oceans, Orkney is uniquely placed to be visited by a diverse selection of the marine creatures that are to be found today in Northern European waters.
As is evidenced by the fossil fish beds, marine creatures have been part of Orkney's natural heritage since the beginning of time. Over millions of years since the time of Lake Orcades, (then situated at the equator), the sea and the creatures that inhabit it have played their part in the formation and development of Orkney.
Ancient sea-beds have provided Orkney with building material and their erosion has provided its fertile soils.
The marine environment provided early mankind with a means of transport, exploration and dispersion, protection around settlements and fortifications from their enemies and, of course, an important source of food.
Many individual marine species, from the mighty Whale to the humble seaweed, have contributed to Orkney's development throughout the ages and some continue to contribute to Orkney's economy today.
Orkney Marine-Life Aquarium operates a policy of continually improving the conditions and quality of life for the exhibits and enhancing the experience and the facility for all visitors.
In addition to the live exhibits, the Aquarium has displays on many other aspects of Orkney’s maritime heritage and practical demonstrations including knots, splices and net mending are available on request for groups, individuals or children’s birthday parties.
The project has also proved a success in the concept of recycling obsolete or redundant vehicles as a basis for meeting the environmental needs of the exhibits and further developments along these lines are planned to meet the needs of our visitors.
The Aquarium is grateful for the generous support of members of the community in providing not only live exhibits from the local fishermen, but also donations and loans of seafaring memorabilia from other Orkney residents.
The Aquarium facilities provide an opportunity to host research projects and we may be involved in the current proposals for research into the decline of the Common Skate.
Aquariums are the fastest growing sector of the visitor attraction market in Europe, despite the fact that they are one of the most expensive types of all attractions to maintain. As with any livestock, they require 24/7 attention!
The largest aquarium visitor attraction in Europe is now to be built in the UK in Bedfordshire. Aquariums are recognized as important centers in highlighting aspects of the environment & food sources that normally remain hidden as well as increasing the awareness of conservationist issues.
According to research by Napier University Edinburgh, of the 6074 visitor attractions in the UK, 75% are small businesses and many do not operate as viable commercial enterprises, relying upon financial and voluntary assistance.
Few small attractions offer return on investments and therefore there is little opportunity for reinvestment and expansion.
The largest Aquariums look to sponsorship and adoptions to help meet operating costs and Orkney Marine-Life Aquarium is introducing a number of support measures to assist in maintaining the facility and financing specific projects.