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Home to over 250 marine animals that call the warm waters of the tropics home, the Coral Seas exhibit is the main centrepiece at the heart of Bristol Aquarium.

Welcome to Coral Seas, where a spectacular showcase of tropical species awaits. Our 250,000-litre warm saltwater tank is the largest display here at Bristol Aquarium, offering an adapted environment for over 50 unique tropical species – from cownose rays (Rhinoptera bonasus) to the iconic clownfish (Amphiprioninae) and regal tang (Paracanthurus hepatus), made famous, of course, thanks to Disney’s Finding Nemo.

Complete with floor-to-ceiling viewing windows and an enchanting underwater tunnel – Coral Seas is worth the cost of admission alone. Learn more about our signature marine exhibit right here.

What is the Coral Sea?

The name for our “Coral Seas” exhibit didn’t come about through happenstance. We took inspiration from the real-life Coral Sea – a marginal sea of the South Pacific off the northeast coast of Australia.

Of course, this isn’t just any old body of water; the Coral Sea is famous for being home to the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest and most precious coral reef system. This makes the sea one of the most valuable marine habitats on the planet, with over 9,000 species thought to live among its tropical corals, reefs, and anemones.

A fitting name, then, for our largest and most diverse exhibit, where visitors can take in a staggering array of tropical marine species, living harmoniously in our specially adapted tank.

What is the Coral Sea’s atmosphere like?

As you might expect, recreating the unique marine ecosystem of the Coral Sea is no mean feat, with specialist equipment needed to maintain the water at a balmy 23-27°C – the average water temperature found in the tropics.

Despite the challenges associated with recreating the exact conditions of a tropical marine ecosystem, our Coral Seas exhibit provides the ideal environment for its warm-water-loving residents. Our vast tank is not only maintained at tropical temperatures but also houses real coral and anemones – for an authentic showcase of life in one of the world’s most precious underwater habitats.

Of course, the real Coral Sea is found in one of the mildest parts of the Pacific Ocean, where the warm salt water is ideal for sustaining the tropical species that live among the region’s coral reef systems. The climate here remains stable for much of the year, with air temperatures averaging 21°C in the winter months and 30°C in the summer – the kind of climate we can only dream about here in Bristol.

What animals will I find in Coral Seas?

Coral Seas at Bristol Aquarium is home to 50+ tropical species, from the deceptively deadly but very beautiful lionfish (Pterois volitans) to the easy-to-spot honeycomb moray eel (Gymnothorax favagineus). Of course, we had to select the species to include in our Coral Seas exhibit with great care, both to do justice to the diversity of life in our tropical oceans and to ensure that all our animals live as harmoniously as possible in a single display tank.

The result? A real who’s who of tropical species, including Sheila, our beloved giant grouper (Epinephelus lanceolatus); Piper, our cute-as-a-button porcupine pufferfish (Diodon holocanthus); our oriental sweetlips (Plectorhinchus vittatus) fish beloved for his vividly striped skin; and Angel Face, a banded smooth hound shark (Triakis scyllium) that has become a firm favourite with our visitors and keepers alike.

While it’s virtually impossible to list and describe all the species on display in Coral Seas, we can’t not mention our resident clownfish and regal tang. The stars of Finding Nemo, these tropical species are a must-see for most visitors who pass through our Coral Seas exhibit – can you spot them?

Here’s a closer look at some of the fascinating tropical creatures to be found in Coral Seas…

Emperor angelfish (Pomacanthus imperator)

Did you know? The emperor angelfish produces a knocking sound when it feels threatened, presumably to ward off would-be predators.

Clown triggerfish (Balistoides conspicillum)

Did you know? The clown triggerfish has a long dorsal spine which it uses to anchor itself into small gaps, making it more difficult for predators to approach and overcome it.

Panther grouper (Cromileptes altivelis)

Did you know? The panther grouper is also known as the humpback grouper due to its distinctive body shape.

Red snapper (Lutjanus campechanus)

Did you know? Sadly, the beautiful red snapper is now categorised as vulnerable by the IUCN due to overfishing.

Longhorn cowfish (Lactoria cornuta)

Did you know? When threatened, the longhorn cowfish secretes a deadly toxin from its skin. It’s also evolved to have two horns on either side of its head, which makes predation more difficult.

Accessibility

Coral Seas, like all areas of Bristol Aquarium, is fully accessible to those with mobility issues, including wheelchair users. To find out more, please visit our accessibility page.

Who would enjoy the Coral Seas exhibit at Bristol Aquarium?

It may sound like a tired cliche to say that there’s “something for everyone”, but in the case of Coral Seas, we really mean it.

For instance, shark lovers can see a handful of unique tropical species here, from the Arabian cat shark (Bythaelurus alcockii) to the brown-banded bamboo shark (Chiloscyllium punctatum). Meanwhile, our giant grouper Sheila is a must-see for lovers of big fish species, while our family of pufferfish always prove popular with visitors – particularly when they showcase their renowned defensive capabilities.

Of course, the exhibit alone is a real crowd-pleaser, with a thrilling underwater tunnel that allows you to immerse in the display while creatures quite literally swim over your head. We even have an aerial viewing platform to allow you to take in the exhibit from above – offering a whole new perspective on the animals of the Coral Seas.

 

Current Water Temp

23 – 27 / 73 – 80

Water Type

Marine

Climate / Biome

Tropical

In This Exhibit

50+ Species

Where are we?

Pacific and Indian Oceans

Favourites In This Exhibit

Look down on our huge tropical display!

Head to the edge of the rainforest to meet even more fascinating species. Come face to face with piranhas and poisonous frogs!

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