Exploris Aquarium to re-open after two years

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 Common clownfish. Image by Shutterstock. Common clownfish. Image by Shutterstock.
Common clownfish. Image by Shutterstock.

Northern Ireland’s only public aquarium is to re-open on Monday, August 15 after a £2m refurbishment.


Exploris Aquarium at Portaferry in Co Down, was saved earlier this year after being given the go-ahead for a major refurbishment which sees new accommodation for the fish and other aquatic species, a number of different zones including Viking, Tropical and Reptile zones, an otter display and a rescued juvenile Nile crocodile. The aquarium will also retain its seal sanctuary where two seal pups are currently being nursed back to health.

Exploris, which had been council run since it opened in 1987, was closed in 2014 after the previous Ards Borough Council decided that at a cost of £600,000 a year, the aquarium was too expensive to continue to operate. It was given two months to find funding or face being sold off.

The £2m refurbishment package was secured from the aquarium’s new operator Crumlin Road Gaol Ltd., along with the Department of Environment and the council.