Exploris to reopen this summer

From the Ards and North Down Council website:

Friday 12th February 2016

Exploris, our aquarium and seal sanctuary in Portaferry will reopen in summer 2016

This photograph shown Exploris Aquarium and Seal Sanctuary in Portaferry

Exploris Aquarium in Portaferry will reopen in the summer following an investment of almost £1.5M in refurbishment works and with a new operator, the company responsible for the success of Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast.

Following a special council meeting on 11 February 2016,  Ards and North Down Borough Council confirmed that construction work will start on site after Easter to facilitate the centre reopening in the summer. The work represents an investment of almost £1.5M; £914,000 from the Department of the Environment and the remainder is from the council and new operator.

Crumlin Road Gaol Ltd (CRG) will operate the Aquarium and Seal Sanctuary on the council’s behalf. CRG has enjoyed outstanding success with Crumlin Road Gaol, one of the top three visitor attractions in Northern Ireland. They have a partnership with Oceanworld Aquarium in Dingle, County Kerry to assist with the development of specialist educational and conservation programmes about marine life at the Aquarium.

Kieran Quinn, Managing Director with CRG Ltd said:

“It’s going to be an exciting opportunity working with Ards and North Down Borough Council and other stakeholders in the Portaferry area to create a first class visitor attraction that will be entertaining and educational for visitors. With the expertise of Kevin Flannery and his colleagues from Dingle Oceanworld, we will have the right team in place to ensure the aquarium becomes one of the best in Europe. We anticipate this project will be a catalyst for regeneration in Portaferry and the surrounding area and we aim to create 35 jobs at the facility.”

The contract with CRG Ltd is for a minimum of 25 years and offers a long-term and sustainable future for the Aquarium. CRG Ltd has committed to investing at least £2M in the facility during the contract.
Welcoming the announcement, Mayor of Ards and North Down, Alderman Alan Graham said:
“Ards and North Down Borough Council could not be more delighted to make this announcement and confirm details for the reopening of Exploris this summer. We are very pleased to have appointed such an innovative company as Crumlin Road Goal Ltd to operate the Aquarium and Seal Sanctuary for us. Their proposals are robust and promise to deliver a first class visitor attraction that will contribute to public understanding of marine life and make a very strong contribution to the regeneration and economic life of Portaferry, as well as the wider Ards and North Down area.

He continued:

“We are very grateful for the financial support provided by the Department of the Environment for the refurbishment works. We appreciate the support provided by Minister Durkan and his officials throughout the process of securing this grant.”