Page last updated at 12:08 GMT, Thursday, 10 September 2009 13:08 UK

Caribbean fish to be flown to UK

National Marine Aquarium
The aquarium is spending 100,000 to charter a plane to bring the fish back

A Plymouth aquarium is chartering an aeroplane to the Caribbean to bring back sharks, barracudas and rays for its Atlantic Ocean display.

Eighteen species of fish will be flown from Ocean Park in Barbados to a new home at the National Marine Aquarium.

The 42-tonne consignment of 100 fish, in 19 specially-constructed tanks, is said to be the biggest ever shipment of live fish into the UK.

The fish are expected to make their UK public debut on 20 October.

The aquarium's head biologist and the head of science and learning are flying to Barbados on Saturday on a Boeing 767, costing in excess of £100,000 to charter, to ensure all the preparations are in place for the fish's flight.

Our Atlantic Ocean tank already contains sand tiger sharks but we will be adding a range of other fish species, including nurse sharks, reef sharks, spotted eagle rays and southern sting rays
John Crouch, National Marine Aquarium

As well as preparing the tanks, they will make sure the fish are not fed for a week before take-off, so they do not contaminate the water during the journey, which is expected to take 30 hours.

The plane will fly to Canada to refuel before landing at Heathrow, where the cargo will be checked by customs and DEFRA.

The consignment will then be flown to Exeter Airport, where large cranes will off-load it into three articulated lorries which will then be driven in convoy - with a police escort - to the aquarium in Plymouth.

The fish will then spend four weeks in quarantine before being transferred to the two-million litre Atlantic Ocean display tank ready for public viewing.

John Couch, National Marine Aquarium spokesman, said: "It is a very exciting time for the aquarium.

"Our Atlantic Ocean tank already contains sand tiger sharks but we will be adding a range of other fish species, including nurse sharks, reef sharks, spotted eagle rays and southern sting rays.

"We have obtained the fish for a nominal fee from Ocean Park in Barbados who were offering them to aquariums because they are changing the focus of their exhibitions and no longer require them."



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