Exploris Aquarium in Portaferry accommodates not just an aquarium but the marine mammal strandings network and only Seal Hospital in Northern Ireland. It engages in marine rescue, outreach and is a public service to the entire population of N.I. The threatened closure by Ards Borough Council of this very important facility needs to stop now.
From long before cross border supports and initiatives Exploris was assisting and co-operating with the Irish Seal Sanctuary (ISS founder and pioneer of Seal Rescue network in the republic) and other agencies in All Island Responses for seals, whales and dolphins, oil spills etc.
Brendan Price, Founder and Director of the Irish Seal Sanctuary says “Itinerant and homeless itself, yet still operational the ISS appeals for Rescue Package for Exploris, If ever an institution merited support for All Island responses and cross border initiatives it is these two organisations. “Land divides, Sea unites”.
Around all the islands of the archipelago, John O’Groats and the RoI (but for ISS) have been the weak link, lacking facilities and support for marine wildlife responses and, if Exploris is to close, it will be a massive and strategic loss to this network and a vital service the public have come to depend on. “Exploris is much more than just an aquarium and tourist attraction and should be regarded so “.
From the Republic of Ireland, the ISS having pioneered and provided these services for 30 years in face of official and bureaucratic indifference and neglect, now itinerant and homeless itself, warns N.I. of what’s ahead if Exploris is to close and the services and skills lost. Mr Price went on to say “As with ourselves, what was 30 years in the making, will not be easily replaced if lost, maybe authorities North and South should look for an All-Island solution for both Exploris and ISS whatever the official responses Exploris must not be closed”.