Sea Lies Campaign 2014

In the second half of 2013, UK-based animal protection charity, Freedom for Animals, commissioned a detailed investigation into the operation of the UK’s largest chain of aquariums, Sea Life; a brand owned by the global company, Merlin Entertainments. This section of the site summarises some of the main findings of that investigation.

SEA LIFE front (Blackpool)

Blackpool SEA LIFE is one of over 40 centres worldwide

The recent investigation follows a similar project carried out by Freedom for Animals ten years previously which culminated in the production of the summary report, Suffering Deep Down, in addition to the full study report entitledAquatic Zoos: A critical study of UK public aquaria. The 2004 study considered a number of different aquariums, not just those operated by Merlin under the Sea Life brand. As such, a direct comparison cannot be drawn between the results found in 2004 and those found a decade later. However, as Sea Life describes itself as the “world’s largest aquarium brand”, it is perhaps safe to assume that standards might be found to be higher in Sea Life centres than others. As such, problems or concerns raised with regard to Sea Life aquariums may also be applicable to other public aquariums around the UK.

Despite the inability to draw direct comparisons between the two studies, a number of areas of general concern noted in 2004 were found to be of equal concern today. In particular, that animals are still being taken from the wild to stock aquariums, that animal welfare provision was lacking and that a generally poor standard of educational information was provided to visitors were all practices noted by investigators in both studies, ten years apart. In addition, a number of issues specific to Sea Life have been highlighted by this new investigation including those surrounding conservation claims, rescue and release programmes, the keeping of cetaceans (whales and dolphins) in captivity and the provision of false and misleading information to visitors.

Choose a subject from drop down menu above to find out more about our main findings and concerns. Detailed information on methodology and the full findings of the investigation can be found HERE.

[Read next section: Sea Lies: False claims made by Sea Life]