Coming face to face with a shark’s jaws

At the age of 32, Warren is just beginning to appreciate Southsea's delights
At the age of 32, Warren is just beginning to appreciate Southsea's delights

KIERAN HOWARD: There needs to be a uni degree course in parenting

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The Southsea seafront area is one of my favourite places. Having lived in Portsmouth all my life I feel it’s only now, at the age of 32, I’m appreciating living by the sea and everything this part of the world has to offer.

I love to walk along the Esplanade when warm sunshine is bouncing off the Solent. Equally I love to do that walk when it’s cold and I need my big coat zipped up to the top.

A prickly leatherjacket or bristletail'.

A prickly leatherjacket or bristletail'.

There is one place I often walk or drive past that I have intended to visit but never got round to. I’m talking about the Blue Reef Aquarium.

My six-year-old daughter Caitlin visited with her school and has been asking to go back ever since.

So now I had the perfect excuse to visit the big blue building by the sea.

Apart from seeing lots of fish I didn’t really know what else to expect.

A tropical seahorse at Blue Reef

A tropical seahorse at Blue Reef

But once we were inside I was really impressed by the sheer variety of different underwater creatures and how close you can get to them.

It turned out that Caitlin was my tour guide and I was impressed how much she remembered from her school trip more than a year ago.

She told me she wanted to find the jelly babies to show her little sister Alyssa. I just assumed she meant the jellyfish and got her words mixed up.

But it became clear I was wrong and she was right when we were greeted by baby jellyfish, otherwise known (as the sign indicated) as Jelly Babies.

Caitlin and Alyssa then got to touch some live crabs in the aquarium’s education room.

The staff were really knowledgeable and we all learned new crab facts.

The black tip reef sharks were a particular highlight.

Four-year-old Alyssa was a bit unsure and asked me how sharp their teeth were and if they would eat us.

After explaining we were safe the three of us watched as the shark glided gracefully through its tank in an authoritative way, just like a bouncer guarding the door at a night club.

It was also great to get close to the dangerous fish known as the piranha. With their grumpy-looking face and their razor-sharp teeth we were relieved that there was a strong piece of glass between them and us.

More highlights included the beautiful stingrays which came to the surface as if they were saying hello, and being just feet away from the ‘cheeky’ otters who were all huddled together sleeping when we were there.

There was so much to see and do, far more than I have space to write about here and we all enjoyed the experience.

It’s also another reason why Portsmouth is a great place to be a parent.