Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary evacuees 'happy' in new home

By Martin Barber
BBC News

image captionTropical aquatics had to be evacuated from the Sea Life Centre in Hunstanton due to the tidal surge

Sharks, a turtle, tropical fish and six penguins evacuated from Hunstanton's Sea Life Sanctuary during the tidal surge have settled in their new homes.

The aquatics' life support systems, including filters and heating, were compromised when the building was "battered" by the tides and lost power.

Senior marine biologist Daz Gook said contamination risks meant evacuating the livestock "was a priority".

The Sea Life team have also saved seal pups stranded on the Norfolk coast.

Mr Gook said his team helped rescue a pup from the Great Yarmouth dunes and seven from the Hemsby and Winterton areas.

Experts were concerned at the potential loss of hundreds of seal pups from the colonies at Blakeney or Horsey, but a National Trust spokeswoman said: "It is with great relief that the ranger team discovered the vast majority of the colony survived the extreme tidal surge."

The last of the 3,000-plus fish and other creatures at flood-ravaged Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary were moved earlier.

The majority - including 11 sharks, six penguins and a green sea turtle - were safely removed on Friday.

image captionThe Sea Life Centre team also helped rescue seal pups from Great Yarmouth and Winterton

Some have been settled at Great Yarmouth Sea Life Centre, while others were taken to quarantine facilities in Weymouth, Dorset.

Mr Gook, from the Great Yarmouth centre, said: We've been taking rays, small British sharks along with tropical fish today.

"Yesterday our sharks included six black-tipped reef sharks, a bonnethead shark and bowmouth guitar shark.

"The eight-year-old turtle has got a playmate here so he seems very happy and the sharks have calmed down now after what would have been quite a stressful time for them."

Sea Life's head marine biologist Rob Hicks said: "In spite of our best efforts we were unable to save around a dozen fish.

"They were the older and weaker individuals, including three mackerel and three pacu.

"We regret every loss of course, but to lose so few in such circumstances as we have faced in the last 48 hours, is testament to the efforts of everybody involved."

The Hunstanton sanctuary suffered extensive flood damage and is still without power.

image captionThe bowmouth guitar shark is one of the Great Yarmouth Sea Life Centre's new "lodgers"

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