Aquarium is inviting you to join sealife stocktake

Some species are easier to count than others in the annual census at Blue Reef
Some species are easier to count than others in the annual census at Blue Reef
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Astocktake isn’t usually cause for celebration.

In fact employees at most companies dread this annual event.

But at one place in Southsea it’s so much fun that members of the public pay for the privilege of joining in.

Yes – it’s time for Blue Reef’s annual census, when staff and visitors keep a track on the sealife citizens.

This aquarium stocktake discovers the current population of all its species of sea-creature after a year of births, deaths and acquisitions.

New arrivals include Colin the map puffer fish and Rodney the baby zebra shark.

They’ll be counted by aquarium staff and volunteer visitors helping to spot and record the number of certain species including other tropical fish, sharks, frogs and rays.

The child who most accurately reports the population of the animals (as measured against the official check by experts at Blue Reef) will win free membership for a year.

Blue Reef’s sales and marketing executive Jen Atkinson says: ‘January has traditionally always been the time of year when we do an official check on all our stock numbers.

‘We thought it would be a good idea to involve the visitors in the whole process as well and turn it into a fun activity that everyone can take part in.

‘Obviously some creatures will be rather easier to count than others; the sharks are usually fairly straightforward, although there are a number of species that like to spend much of their time either hidden among the rocks or under the sand.

‘Tree frogs can be a little tricky as they’re very well camouflaged and anemones are always something of a guesstimate as they reproduce by dividing.’

Visitors will find themselves in a hidden world of UK, Mediterranean and tropical waters.

More than 40 naturally-themed displays reveal the variety of life in the deep from native sharks and rays to otters and colourful reptiles and amphibians.

At the aquarium’s heart is a giant tropical ocean tank where an underwater walkthrough tunnel offers close encounters with the inhabitants of a bustling coral reef.

The stock-take runs from tomorrow until Sunday, January 15, at the aquarium on Clarence Esplanade, open from 10am until 4pm daily.

Admission costs £9.75 for adults, £7.50 for children aged three to 14, £8.75 for seniors and students, £32.50 for a family of four and £39.25 for a family of five. Go to bluereefaquarium.co.uk.