About Our Creatures

The underwater world is a fascinating place, home to tens of thousands of creatures. Wander through the aquarium to meet species from all over the world, including the tropical waters of the Caribbean and the UK’s native shores.

From rays and coral reef fish, to seals and otters, there are plenty of amazing marine creatures to spot. Blue Reef Aquarium Tynemouth is also home to a clever green iguana and some mischievous monkeys.

Find out all about our creatures before your visit, and don’t forget to head along to our daily shows and feeds to get an even closer look at these stunning creatures.

Ready to meet all of the creatures at our aquarium? See our admission prices and book your tickets online to receive a special discount.

Cow Nose Rays

Cow Nose Rays

Cownose Rays (Rhinoptera Bonasus)

Cownose rays have earned their name due to their unique shape – their long and pointed pectoral fins, which separate with a crease into two lobes in front of their high-domed heads, gives them a likeness to that of a cow’s nose.

Fishy Facts

  • Cownose rays are known for their long migrations in large schools (groups of fish). They are strong swimmers, able to cover long distances.
  • These rays have a venomous barb, but even in large groups they’re shy and unthreatening.
  • As this ray swims through the ocean, its wingtips often break the surface, resembling the dorsal fin of a shark – this often causes undue alarm for swimmers and divers! Occasionally, they jump out of the water and land with a loud smack, which is a behaviour thought to be a territorial display.

Habitat: Brackish, shallow waters

Where in the world: Western Atlantic and the Caribbean

Food: Clams, oysters, and hard clams

Maximum size: 89cm

Conservation status: Not threatened

Clownfish

Clownfish

Common Clownfish (Amphiprion Ocellaris)

Common clownfish are one of the most beloved fish, thanks to Disney’s Finding Nemo film. Even despite their fame, they are rather amazing creatures with plenty of unique features. A special layer of mucus on their skins means they can live safely among stinging anemone tentacles. In exchange for calling these their home, clownfish clean and feed the anemones.

Fishy Facts

  • Clownfish can change gender! They live in groups with one dominant breeding pair and other, smaller immature male clownfish. When the dominant female dies, the dominant male turns into a female to take her place.
  • There are 28 different species of clownfish.

Habitat: Coral reefs

Where in the world: Indo-Pacific

Food: Algae, plankton, molluscs, and crustacean

Maximum size: 11cm

Conservation status: Not evaluated

Lionfish

Lionfish

Lionfish (Pterios Volitans)

Lionfish have large venomous spines that protrude from the body like a mane, giving the fish its name. Each spine can measure up to 36cm long, and some lionfish have been known to have as many as 18 of these spines. When threatened, the fish will often face its attacker upside down, in order to better showcase its spines.

Fishy Facts

  • The lionfish is one of the most venomous fish in the ocean.
  • Its sting can cause symptoms such as severe pain, convulsion, paralysis, and can even cause death!

Habitat: Ledges, caves and crevices

Where in the world: Indo-Pacific

Food: Small fish

Maximum size: 42cm

Conservation status: Least concern

Asian Short Clawed Otters

Asian Short Clawed Otters

Asian Short-Clawed Otters (Aonyx Cinerea)

Our Asian short-clawed otters are named Indra and Gizmo. This species is the world’s smallest otter, making these little critters even cuter! They can be distinguished from other otters by their small claws and the incomplete webbing between their digits. The otters use their claws like hands to play with and hold toys and food. The rest of their bodies are equally small – their small heads, short legs and flattened tails create a streamlined shape to help them swim easily through the water. And although they spend lots of their time in the water, otters are equally at home on land.

Furry Facts

  • Asian short-clawed otters are considered to be the most vocal of the 13 otter species.
  • Rice farmers are tolerant of the otters since the otters feed on crayfish, which have a notorious reputation for damaging rice fields. Also, many fishermen actually train otters to drive fish into their nets.

Habitat: Rivers and streams

Where is the world: Asia

Food: Meat, shellfish, nuts, and vegetables

Maximum size: 61cm (plus tail)

Conservation status: Vulnerable

Harbour Seal

Harbour Seal

Harbour Seal (Phoca Vitulina)

Despite spending most of their time in the water, seals are actually mammals. They are members of a group of animals called pinnipeds (which literally translates to ‘fin-footed’ from Latin), along with sea lions and walruses. There are two types of seals which are commonly found around the UK coastline: the harbour seal (otherwise known as the common seal) and the grey seal. We house harbour seals.

We have seal shows every day at 12pm and 3pm – make sure you don’t miss out on seeing these adorable creatures up close and learning more about them from our aquarists.

Furry Facts

  • Seals can hold their breath for up to 25 minutes! They can even sleep under the water.
  • There are 33 different species of seal.
  • Male seals usually live for 25-30 years, whilst female seals have even longer lifespans, averaging 30-35 years. Scientists have discovered that the females outlive the males due to the stresses incurred during breeding season.
  • Seals are mature enough to mate at just six years old.

Habitat: Shallow waters

Where in the world: North Atlantic & North Pacific

Food: Fish and crustaceans

Maximum size: 2 metres

Conservation status: Least concern

Cotton Top Tamarin

Cotton Top Tamarin

Cotton Top Tamarin (Saguinus Oedipus)

One of the world’s most beloved creatures, monkeys live around the world, in all shapes, colours and sizes. Did you know that monkeys are actually divided into two groups as part of the ‘Primate family’? Old World monkeys include large species such as baboons and even gorillas, while New World monkeys include smaller species.

We are lucky to have common marmosets and cotton-top tamarins at the aquarium.

The cotton-top tamarin is sadly classified as Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Join us for our monkey feed every day at 12:30pm and 4pm.

Furry Facts

  • There are about 260 different species of monkeys in the world!
  • Monkeys are most easily distinguished from apes by their tails – apes have no tails.
  • Monkeys will spend hours grooming each other. They pick each other’s hair and skin, and remove (and eat!) bugs.
  • Monkeys use vocalisations, facial expressions, and body movements to communicate.
  • The tropical rainforests, which many monkey species call home, cover approximately 8% of the world’s land surface.

Habitat: Tropical rainforests

Where in the world: South America

Food: Fruit, insects

Maximum size: 30cm (plus tail)

Conservation status: Critically endangered

Stonefish

Stonefish

Stonefish (Synanceia Verrucosa)

The stonefish is widely believed to be the world’s deadliest fish! Growing up to 26 razor-sharp spines along its back, this fish can seem rather ferocious. The spines contain highly toxic venom, and a sting can be fatal to humans if medical attention is not received in a few hours!

Symptoms of a stonefish sting include severe pain, difficulty breathing, abnormal blood pressure and heart rate, discolouration of skin, nausea, vomiting, fainting, seizures, paralysis, and shock – so it’s safe to safe you wouldn’t want to encounter one of these fish in the wild!

Fishy Facts

  • Stonefish can survive out of water for up to 20 hours.
  • The fish are sold for meat in Hong Kong markets.
  • The pain of a stonefish sting is often so great that many victims wish to cut off the limb affected.
  • They can bury in the sand using their large pectoral fins.

Habitat: Tropical marine waters

Where in the world: Indo-Pacific

Food: Small fish or shrimp

Maximum size: 50cm

Conservation status: Not threatened