An aquarium in Aberdeenshire has clinched a prestigious award as Scotland s Best Visitor Experience.
The Macduff Marine Aquarium is council owned and features marine life from the Moray Firth in a variety of exciting and innovative exhibits.
This is the first year the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA) has offered this award and follows on from last years success when the aquarium won Best Visitor Attraction and Innovation Category in the Visit Scotland's Northern Lights Tourism Awards.
Attractions were judged on the experience they delivered to the visitor and they way in which they monitored and improved this experience.
The Chairman of the ASVA judging panel, Bob Downie, was quoted as saying: "Macduff Marine Aquarium is an outstanding example of how to consistently deliver a great customer experience; by its clever use of the built form, the passion and knowledge of its staff, and the great attention to detail that goes into getting all the right things right for visitors of all ages."
The prize was presented to Macduff Marine Aquarium's education and marketing officer, Claire Matthews, at the ASVA conference at Dunblane Hydro on 13th November.
Matthews said, We're thrilled to have won this best visitor experience award, especially as the other contenders were of such high quality and located in the capital. To have won this award is a real accolade for the aquarium.
Witek Mojsiewicz the manager of the aquarium added, The aquarium staff work extremely hard to ensure that our visitors have a fun but also educational experience at the aquarium and they show great enthusiasm and passion for what they do. This award is a confirmation that we are achieving the standards for which we strive and we are over the moon to have been recognised in this way.
The aquarium's large central tank, which includes a five metre deep living kelp reef and a variety of North Sea fish, is the only one of its kind in Britain. Earlier this year the aquarium opened a new jellyfish exhibit and focuses its attention on displaying deep water invertebrates which are shown in any other aquarium in Britain.
The aquarium receives around 50,000 visitors per year who come to view hundreds of native fish and invertebrates which are normally only seen by divers in the North Sea.