Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Michelle McIlveen has enjoyed a visit to the refurbished Exploris Aquarium in Portaferry, County Down.
The aquarium has been fully renovated as part of a joint investment of almost £2 million by DAERA, Ards and North Down Borough Council and Crumlin Road Gaol Ltd, who will be operating the facility.
Speaking about her visit to the refurbished aquarium, the Minister said: “I was delighted to be able to visit the newly refurbished Exploris Aquarium on the shores of Strangford Lough. As Northern Ireland’s only aquarium, I was impressed by the high quality attraction it has now become while retaining at its core an educational experience. There is something for visitors of all ages.
“My Department has invested more than £900,000 in the renovation works, and will also be making an annual contribution of up to £120,000 towards the running costs of the seal sanctuary.”
As well as new and improved enclosures for the wide range of fishes and aquatic species the aquarium previously accommodated, the new Exploris retains the seal sanctuary and incorporates specially constructed living environments for otters and, for the first time in Northern Ireland, a Nile crocodile.
The Minister continued: “I would like to commend Ards and North Down Borough Council and Crumlin Road Gaol Ltd for the work they have done to bring Exploris to this position.
“Exploris now stands ready to reopen to the public next week and I wish the staff and management the very best as they embark upon this exciting new era.”