Scuba divers often have an ambivalent view of aquariums. While most divers who enjoy marine life would prefer their encounters to be in the wild it’s acknowledged that – when done correctly – putting underwater animals on display can have a positive influence on public attitudes to wildlife protection, as well as advancing research.
Now a forthcoming BBC Two and iPlayer series, Secrets of the National Marine Aquarium, has been commissioned to take viewers on a deep dive into the UK’s biggest such facility.
With the Plymouth centre approaching its 25th anniversary, new tanks are being installed and new animals arriving. Through six one-hour programmes, the “character-led” TV series goes behind the scenes to follow the staff through a year of “renovation, overhaul and innovation”, as they tackle the everyday challenges of “keeping more than 4,000 creatures happy and healthy”.
The NMA also provides an example of an aquarium that works far beyond the confines of glass walls, and the documentary series will reflect that, says Welsh production company Hall of Mirrors. It will follow the team’s role in the landmark Blue Meadows seagrass protection project, which aims to take a holistic approach to local seagrass protection, regeneration and restoration. The ambitious initiative was described on Divernet recently.
The TV series will also showcase how the aquarium team is helping to establish Plymouth Sound as Britain’s first National Marine Park, supporting more than 1,000 species of fish and other marine life.
Divers will also recall that it was the NMA that took on the project of creating an artificial reef off Plymouth when it bought HMS Scylla in 2003, and used it as a means of researching marine-life colonisation while it became one of the UK’s most popular wreck dives – so it’s to be hoped that the famous shipwreck will get a look-in.
Back in the tanks, Secrets of the National Marine Aquarium will show the team feeding the starfish, swimming with sharks, weighing sting rays, building a lobster cave, visiting the fish nursery and preparing for the arrival of baby clownfish, says the NMA.
“It’s absolutely fantastic that we will be able to showcase the innovative work that is being done here and give viewers a deep dive into what’s involved in the team’s day-to-day,” said Olly Reed, the NMA’s marketing and communications head.
“From feeding the animals to providing an insight into our latest and most vital projects, it will be a must-watch for anyone with an interest in the ocean and the environment.” Transmission dates and times have yet to be announced.
Also on Divernet: Divers Shift Seagrass Seeds And Nets