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Ilfracombe Aquarium

Discover an incredible world of unique and fascinating aquatic life

Move over Nemo. If you want to see some extraordinary creatures - then look no further than Ilfracombe Aquarium.

Want to discover an incredible world of unique and fascinating aquatic life? Then come on down to Ilfracombe Aquarium and marvel at North Devon’s own awe-inspiring aquatic species: an enormous lobster growing a brand- new claw; giant rays that bob to the water’s surface to greet you; plate-ized starfish terrorising the tanks; and cuttlefish, the ultimate masters of disguise. The variety of the creatures to be observed is simply stunning.

The aquarium is the brainchild of Lawrence Raybone, who has a wealth of credentials: post college he previously worked for several years within the public aquaria industry, including ZSL London Zoo, which all provided the qualifications for gaining his own zoo license. Based in the charming old lifeboat house on the harbour, the Aquarium offers visitors a spectacular aquatic journey as you follow a zoned trail from the source of an Exmoor stream, down river, to an estuary, local rockpool, harbour, coast and out to Lundy island and its unique marine reserve.

The Ilfracombe Aquarium tells us the story of the treasures hidden below the water’s surface and allows us to stop and look at the variety and beauty of life underwater. It is important to take time at each lovingly-cared-for exhibit to watch species interacting with each other. The informative displays reveal what makes each creature so special and reminds us of the wonder of the freshwater and marine life we share our home with in North Devon.

Lawrence and the team take immense pride in welcoming and being able to guide visitors around the aquarium, sharing their love for the aquatic world through demonstrations and interactive opportunities. They also have a breeding programme with native rays and work together with other aquaria in the UK to share species. Steve Corcoran, custodian of all the aquatic creatures for over 12 years, explains how their mission is to wow visitors with the diversity of life on display and educate as many people as possible including schools & extra-curricular groups about our treasured aquatic life and how it can be protected. “The bass and the pollock are fierce testimony to our dedication and care: at over 10 years old, these are the oldest residents in the aquarium, which opened it doors back in 2001.”

Why not continue your learning journey, even after you have left the aquarium? If you have kept one of the complimentary children’s quizzes, you are on the path to becoming a bit of a marine expert, so why not try and test your knowledge out in the field like a true marine biologist and see what you can find in the rockpools? Perhaps you might avoid danger on the beach now you know what a Weever fish, with its nasty venomous sting, looks like?

Or, if it is time for a short break, the Pier Café is an excellent place to sit, relax and watch the harbour from the high gallery area. The Pier Café is open to anyone passing by, not just aquarium visitors, and the aquarium team will welcome you with quality coffee, cake, savouries and, of course, ice cream! Supporting the café means supporting the aquarium, which does so much to promote and protect our local marine environment and will help the aquarium to develop future projects.


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