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Final days of operations for the Manly Sea Life Sanctuary

Final days of operations for the Manly Sea Life Sanctuary
January 24, 2018

After more than 50 years of operations the Manly Sea Life Sanctuary will close this weekend, with the attraction, variously known as Marineland, Underwater World, Manly Oceanarium or Oceanworld over the decades, closing as of Sunday 28th January.

Located at Manly Cove on Sydney Harbour, the attraction first opened in November 1963, when it was the third largest facility of its kind in the world.

A popular location over the decades, it was expanded in the 1980s when a multi million-dollar reconstruction created a walkthrough underwater tunnel, at that time the world’s longest.

For the next few decades, along with its display, it has evolved environment and animal care programs, such as its care for Manly’s rare little penguin colony.

It has also helped in the recuperation of injured sealife, such as Myrtle the Green Sea turtle, the victim of a boat strike which caused massive fractures on her shell, and after being rescued, required extensive care and rehabilitation.

After being nursed back to health, the Sanctuary’s team came up with a creative solution to help her swim with her injuries that involved the attachment of lead weights to her shell to ensure she doesn’t constantly rise to the surface.

Known as the Manly Sea Life Sanctuary since 2012 when Merlin Entertainments Group took over the site from the Sydney Attractions Group, in March last year the UK-based attractions giant announced that the building was no longer feasible to maintain as an aquarium due to the projected maintenance required to keep the site up and running.

As a result, Merlin has let the lease on the structure, which belongs to the NSW Government’s Road and Maritime Authority, lapse as at the end of January 2018.

The impending closure has led to speculation about the site’s future, with an RMS spokesperson saying the service has "been approached by several parties with an interest in taking on the site once the aquarium departs the site" and that it would be looking for expressions of interest for the lease of the site "in accordance with the current zoning."

This current zoning is solely limited to boats sheds, kiosks, function centres, water recreation structures and marinas.

Suggestions that the site would be redeveloped as a residential site have reportedly been discarded at the current time.

Meanwhile, the fish, sharks and marine mammals at the Sanctuary are to be relocated to other aquariums with the Merlin Entertainments group.

In addition, the breed, rescue and protect program is being moved to the Darling Harbour Sea Life Aquarium.

Life Sciences Manager Rob Townsend says this program has helped change the community's outlook towards animals like sharks and taking care of the environment.

This work has ranged from a primary focus on in-house breeding to minimise the impact of animal populations in the wild, rescuing injured animals and nurturing them back to health and protecting the environment by regular beach and dive cleans.

With the comfort of knowing all the animals will be safely taken care of, Townsend admitted he will deeply miss the daily contact with animals.

He told Sydney newspaper The Daily Telegraph "I've been lucky enough to be able to jump in the tank with big sharks, rays and turtles on a nearly daily basis.

"That's going to be really hard to not have that anymore."

Images: The Manly Sea Life Sanctuary from Sydney Harbour (top), Myrtle the Green Sea (middle) and Myrtle with divers (below).

27th November 2017 - NEW OPERATORS LOOK TO REVITALISE WELL KNOWN MANLY WATERSLIDE ATTRACTION

1st April 2017 - MERLIN TO CLOSE MANLY SEA LIFE SANCTUARY AFTER 50 YEARS

27th April 2016 - MERLIN ENTERTAINMENTS MARKS FIVE YEARS OF OPERATIONS IN AUSTRALASIA 

16th July 2012 - SYDNEY AQUARIUM TO RELAUNCH AS SEA LIFE SYDNEY AQUARIUM

16th May 2012 - MERLIN TO RELAUNCH OCEANWORLD MANLY AS MANLY SEA LIFE SANCTUARY

18th February 2012 - MERLIN CONFIRMS LIVING AND LEISURE AUSTRALIA TAKEOVER

22 February 2011 - OCEANWORLD MANLY UNVEILS ‘MIRACULOUS’ BABY EAGLE RAYS 

20th January 2011 - MERLIN ENTERTAINMENTS GROUP ACQUIRES SYDNEY ATTRACTIONS GROUP FROM VILLAGE ROADSHOW 


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Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

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