Video and photo gallery: Creatures return to Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary after flood damage

Ernie the Turtle at The Sealife Centre, Hunstanton. Picture: Ian Burt

Ernie the Turtle at The Sealife Centre, Hunstanton. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

Seals, turtles, penguins, otters, rays and other creatures are returning to an aquarium that was destroyed by last December's tidal surge.

Penguins have been returned to The Sealife Centre, Hunstanton. Picture: Ian Burt

Penguins have been returned to The Sealife Centre, Hunstanton. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

Ernie the giant green sea turtle was the first of the creatures to return to his tank at Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary yesterday, after spending 10 months in Great Yarmouth.

More than 2,500 creatures had to be hastily evacuated from the sanctuary to sea life centres across England when it was wrecked by three-foot deep floodwaters. The seals and otters went to Scarborough, the turtles and penguins to Great Yarmouth, rays and fish to London and more fish to Weymouth, Dorset.

The tidal surge that breached the resort's flood defences knocked out the sanctuary's power and life support systems, cracked windows and lifted tanks off their foundations.

But the vast majority of creatures were safely removed to temporary homes with fewer than 30 small tropical fish lost.


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Now the sanctuary, which has been closed since the tidal surge, is due to reopen on October 16, after undergoing a £3m-plus refurbishment.

General manager Nigel Croasdale said: 'The creatures are returning now, as they need time to settle into their new homes. It's been a long, hard 10 months.

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'We had 3-4ft of water throughout the entire building internally. That depth of sea water does a tremendous amount of damage and the whole building had to be rewired electrically.

'The staff at the centre are trained to care for animals and operate a successful visitor attraction, but for the last 10 months we have been taken out of that world and put on a building site.'

The refurbishment has seen the sanctuary's seal hospital refitted with an isolation unit, the seals' home has been expanded and their huge pool embellished with an underwater viewing window, and the four Asian short-clawed otters have a new enclosure to explore.

Do you have a story for the EDP? Email david.bale2@archant.co.uk

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