Over 100 fish, including sharks up to three metres long, were off-loaded from an aircraft at Exeter International Airport this weekend when the largest ever consignment of live fish arrived from Barbados via Heathrow en route to the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth.
The National Marine Aquarium chartered a Boeing 767 to fly 19 tanks of fish to the UK as the stock from the Ocean Park Aquarium in Barbados has become surplus to requirements due to the development of a new exhibit. Many of the fish are new to the aquarium in Plymouth, and included Nurse Sharks up to three metres in length, together with one metre long Spotted Eagle Rays and Great Barracudas.
A team from the National Marine Aquarium flew with the 42 tonnes of cargo from Barbados on Saturday 20 September. Special life support machines were constructed to ensure the safe passage of the stock and after a stop at Heathrow airport for DEFRA checks they flew on to Exeter Airport. The final leg of the journey to Plymouth required a convoy of three articulated trucks and a police escort.
James Wright, Senior Biologist, in charge of the logistics of the operation said: ‘We came up with a wish list for our Atlantic Ocean tank and miraculously Ocean Park faxed through an almost identical list – so we’re incredibly lucky to get such an amazing array of animals all in one go.”