Merlin Entertainments today announces the launch of a new conservation programme with its network of over 50+ SEA LIFE aquariums and in partnership with marine conservation charity, the SEA LIFE TRUST.
The new conservation programme initiative will enable teams based at SEA LIFE aquariums across the globe to deliver exciting projects designed to make a positive impact on conservation in their local communities. The board will focus its efforts on saving endangered species, protecting local oceans and freshwater environments, and supporting positive change, with the ultimate ambition to protect the world’s waters and ecosystems for the future.
As part of the conservation programme, seven projects managed by SEA LIFE teams around the world have been successful in receiving funding to cover a full spectrum of conservation issues, spanning across Asia, Australia, the USA and Europe. The seven commissioned projects include a breeding programme for endangered zebra sharks at SEA LIFE Sydney in Australia, to coral reef restoration with the team at SEA LIFE Bangkok in Thailand:
SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium is playing an integral part in the rollout of the StAR Project (Stegostoma tigrinum Augmentation and Recovery Project) - a world-first, multi-national, collaborative initiative of ReShark, that aims to establish genetically diverse, self-sustaining populations of zebra sharks in marine protected areas of West Papua, Indonesia, to benefit local populations and support healthy marine ecosystems.
As part of this pioneering project, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, one of the project’s “Breeder” facilities, embarked on a rigorous permitting and governmental export approval process, before finally the founder shark eggs were shipped on epic, multi-day transit from Sydney to Raja Ampat, more than 4200 kms, to become the first eggs provided to the StAR Project and world-first for a shark species recovery program.
SEA LIFE Bangkok Ocean World is collaborating with two organizations based in Krabi to develop a long term, self-sustaining coral reef research and restoration project in the Andaman region of Southern Thailand. This research aims to determine the most effective way to promote reef growth and regeneration suited to this region and create an operational framework that will both promote the resilience of these coastal ecosystems as well as foster engagement and support with the local communities that depend on them.
These two projects are the first of the seven to be established in their locations, with other projects around the world due to announce their developments later this year. More project applications have already been submitted to the Conservation Board for evaluation later this year, where local SEA LIFE teams have the opportunity to receive additional support and the ambition to be replicated at other locations in the future.
“We are incredibly proud to support impactful conservation programs that make a real difference to aquatic wildlife and their habitats. Our dedicated teams actively participate in conservation projects around the world. From funding turtle conservation research, to releasing zebra sharks into the wild, to rescuing the endangered native British Crayfish, our aspiration is to protect and restore the underwater world for future generations.”Chris Brown, Chair of Merlin’s Conservation Board and Head of Marine Programmes and Education for SEA LIFE UK
“The SEA LIFE TRUST has marine conservation at its heart, and my ambition is for our charity to continue to raise even more funds to drive impactful conservation projects and programmes around the world as time goes on. Our mission is to protect the world’s oceans and the amazing, diverse marine life that lives within them, so it’s brilliant that the SEA LIFE TRUST is working hand in hand with SEA LIFE and Merlin to make significant and positive differences to our planet’s aquatic habitats. It’s a privilege to be supporting Merlin’s passionate teams around the world in championing change for good as they undertake a range of inspiring and impactful conservation work; from reducing plastic in our oceans to sustainable fishing, to ending over-exploitation of aquatic life and the destruction of natural habitats. Our world’s climate is driven by its oceans, and we are taking action to help Earth stay beautiful for future generations.”Graham McGrath, Managing Director of SEA LIFE TRUST
Further information on other projects which are set to receive funding will be provided in the coming weeks and months, at different locations around the world.
Notes to Editors
About Merlin Entertainments
Merlin Entertainments is a global leader in location-based, family entertainment. As Europe's Number 1 and the world's second-largest visitor attraction operator, Merlin operates over 140 attractions, 23 hotels and 6 holiday villages in 24 countries and across 4 continents. Merlin’s purpose is to deliver memorable experiences to its millions of guests around the world, through its iconic brands and multiple attraction formats, and the commitment and passion of its employees.
About SEA LIFE and the SEA LIFE TRUST
SEA LIFE is the world’s largest family of aquariums, proudly delivering amazing discoveries around the world. From breath-taking underwater tunnels to incredible up-close encounters, guests can dive into the ocean world without getting wet.
Welcoming more than 20 million guests each year to 50 aquariums and six sanctuaries, SEA LIFE cares for over 180,000 creatures living in incredible themed habitats. SEA LIFE has a vision of oceans that are healthy, protected, and full of diverse, wonderful animals and works together with its partner charity, the SEA LIFE TRUST. Their joint focus is to protect these oceans and the amazing marine life within them.
The SEA LIFE TRUST owns and operates marine wildlife sanctuaries (including the world’s first Beluga Whale Sanctuary in Iceland), runs inspiring conservation campaigns and funds projects and education programmes that champion the need to protect our oceans.
Through its global BREED, RESCUE, PROTECT programme and dedicated Conservation, Welfare and Engagement team, SEA LIFE’s team of expert marine biologists pioneer global breeding projects which may one day provide a lifeline to the ocean’s endangered species, as well as nursing sick creatures back to health and returning them to the wild. If they can’t survive in the wild, they are given a safe home for life.