It’s o-fish-ial — VOS went to the Aquarium!

It must be over twenty years since I visited the Blue Reef Aquarium – that was in the days of young grandchildren so I was delighted to be able join the lovely group for a private tour last Thursday.

We had the very knowledgeable Louise taking us around and explaining about the various species we were seeing.
  • The first of which was the spider crab, so named because of its spindly legs. It has a furry type growth on its shell which acts as an effective camouflage and has the advantage of being the only crab to walk forwards as well as sideways.


  • We went on to be fascinated by the tank containing the Sea Horses. These delicate looking creatures are so interesting – they are of course technically fish, swimming upright, propelling themselves by using a small fin on their back which flutters up to 35 times a second. Except for crabs, they have very few predators due to the fact that they are bony and quite indigestible. However the mating and reproduction process of the sea horse is the most interesting fact for me – which includes an elaborate “dance” after which the female deposit their eggs into the male’s brood pouch where he fertilises them, as the embryos grow the male’s tummy becomes distended and when he is ready to give birth , the belly opens and contractions cause the birth of the juvenile seahorses.  This could be up to a thousand at a time although very few survive to adulthood.


  • Continuing round we arrived at the tanks containing a variety of most beautiful rays, so smooth and graceful almost flying rather than swimming.  Sharing the waters were a variety of tropical sharks.  I found it most therapeutic watching the never ending movement of these creatures.


  • A wonderful display of Angel Fish, Tangs, the unusual Box Fish ( sometimes referred to as a Cow Fish) the superb colours of these blending together like looking through a kaleidoscope.  An absolute feast for the eyes.


  • I mustn’t forget to mention the elegant Lion Fish with their distinctive red, white and black band colouration, they are venomous and can deliver a very painful puncture wound delivered from its spiky fins.


  • The brightly coloured Clown Fish mustn’t be forgotten, they have this unique symbiosis with the Anemone and are able to swim safely among the ever waving tentacles.
I could continue to “wax lyrical” on the amazing marine life encountered this afternoon but feel I must leave some surprises for those who have not yet had the opportunity to visit. My sincere thanks to Pips and VOS for organising this most enjoyable outing – what would we all do without you.
(Written by Z.Knight)

If you’re a veteran from the UK Armed Forces or the Merchant Navy (from any time of service) or a partner to one, VOS would love for you to join our community. We are here to offer our support: call us on 02392 731 767, visit an upcoming drop-in, or email

VOS is immensely grateful to the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust and the Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity, as without their support and funding we would not be able to provide activities such as this one.

NEXT – Read about our trip on HSL 102 from Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

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