Get ready for some fishy fun with a family visit to one of the fantastic aquariums in Ireland that are perfect for helping kids to appreciate our oceans:
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Learning about the environment around us is a wonderful thing, and educating our children on the world’s finest creatures is exciting!
From sharks and seahorses to jellyfish and dolphins, these aquariums in Ireland offer a unique opportunity to discover more about the underwater world. With plenty of child-friendly activities, you’re sure to have a fun family day out.
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Plan a Visit to These Aquariums in Ireland
One of our favourites, Galway Atlantaquaria is home to Ireland’s largest native species Aquarium, located in Salthill Galway and it offers its visitors a family friendly day by the sea.
There are over 100 native species and a wide array of exhibits over two floors at the aquarium.
With regular tours and interactive feeding times there is always something new to learn about the marine life of Ireland. Rumour has it they are building a Penguinarium soon!
Tip: your ticket is an all day one so you can go in for a while, come out and eat and enjoy the playground next door then pop back in later.
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OceanWorld Aquarium, Kerry
Situated along the quay side in Dingle Town, Oceanworld Aquarium is where the ocean comes to life. Boasting Ireland’s largest collection of sharks, a polar penguin display featuring Gentoo Penguins, Amazonian displays, a touch tank and a nine-metre underwater tunnel.
They also hold daily talks, feeds and reptile encounters.
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The National Sealife Centre, Wicklow
The National Sea Life Centre Bray has over 30 displays including a kids quiz trail, Toxic Terrors, hourly educational feeds and talks.
Open daily from 10am with a huge selection of marine and freshwater creatures including sharks, seahorses, piranhas, crab and starfish. And if you book online you can save 20% on your tickets.
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Achill Experience Aquarium, Mayo
The Achill Experience in Mayo helps kids to explore and learn about many different species of sea creatures from around the waters of Achill Island. The Aquarium consists of 16 tanks exhibiting varieties of fish to be found in waters off Achill which is on the Wild Atlantic Way.
The Aquarium also hosts a selection of tropical fish from around the world. Look out for their Clown fish “Nemo” and Pacific Blue Tang “Dory” as well as “Hank” the Octopus. They also have Piranhas and Lionfish and shy Sea Horses to spot. Their touch tanks allow you to get up close and personal with starfish, sea urchins or scallops.
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Exploris is Northern Ireland’s public Aquarium and seal sanctuary, located at Portaferry. Discover pool demonstrations, run by experienced guides, at regular intervals throughout each day, which can give you the opportunity to interact with a variety of living marine animals. You can also find out how Exploris rehabilitates Northern Ireland’s sick, injured or orphaned seals back to health in the seal sanctuary.
Tip: Catch the ferry from Strangford to Portaferry it takes 10 minutes to cross, and you’ll also find a park beside Exploris with a little playground where you can have a picnic.
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Coastal Zone, Antrim
The Coastal Zone at Portrush is the Department of the Environment’s main coastal and marine centre. Discovery pools and tanks along with displays and activities give visitors the chance to learn more about Northern Ireland’s marine and coastal wildlife and heritage.
At the rear of the centre is a viewing platform which affords excellent views towards the sea. From here dolphins, seals and harbour porpoises can sometimes be seen.
Coastal Zone is free to visit.
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Riverwatch Visitor Centre & Aquarium, Derry
Riverwatch Visitor Centre hosts a small aquarium and exhibitions about our rivers, loughs and coast. Watch the fish swim about the tanks and learn about local wildlife. There are lobster, crabs, starfish, coalfish, and plenty of other marine life, freshwater fish and shellfish to discover. There are free activity packs for the kids and admission is free.
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Learn More About Marine Life in Ireland
These next two places aren’t aquariums, but they are fun for encouraging an interest in Marine Science.
Award winning Sea Synergy Marine Awareness & Activity Centre is nestled in the colourful coastal village of Waterville, Co. Kerry on the Ring of Kerry and perfect for families looking for fun adventure and discovery along our beautiful Wild Atlantic Way!
The awareness centre houses a unique interactive exhibition on Ireland’s sea life where marine biologists will give you a tour without having to get wet!
Hold some of the largest animals on earth’s bones and see some of the ocean’s smallest and extremely important animals in the exhibition.
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Sea Science – the Wild Atlantic exhibition at Galway City Museum explores marine life along Galway’s coastline through fun and informative displays for all the family to enjoy. It is a must-see for visitors of all ages but designed primarily for children and young people.
Originally developed and commissioned by the Marine Institute Galway for SeaFest 2016, this interactive exhibition is the first gallery of its kind in Ireland and presents fascinating facts about marine life.
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Have you visited any of these aquariums in Ireland? Which one was your favourite? Leave a comment below and let us know – we’d love to hear from you!