So last week while in Dorset we naturally took the chance to visit Lyme Regis Marine Aquarium in Lyme Regis, Dorset.
The first thing you notice about Lyme Regis Marine Aquarium is it's a pretty small aquarium. If you printed out the website of the Lyme Regis Marine Aquarium and laid the pages out on the floor, they would cover a greater area than the actual aquarium they advertise. If you then got some felt tips and drew a bunch of fish on the pages, you would have a better and less harrowing aquarium than the Lyme Regis Marina Aquarium.
The aquarium's USP is they have some mullets in a sort of trough (the website calls it a 'lagoon') and you can feed them. I don't know if you have ever seen a mullet? If you haven't, picture a normal fish. Just a normal fish, the kind that you find in shoals, grey, no glowing bits, pretty much THE MOST STANDARD FISH YOU CAN IMAGINE.
But now... picture a mullet eating.
That's right, they just use their mouths.
'It takes about eight years to train them,' said the aquarium man as he stuck his hand, full of planktons, into the trough and a bunch of mullets came and ate them. 'No other aquariums bother to do it.'
The remainder of the aquarium is a bunch of tanks, no bigger and a bit filthier than you might get in a pet shop, in which languish various other sad-looking fish and crustaceans. Philosophically speaking, it's debateable what level of consciousness and capacity for feeling cooped up the delicious brains of these kind of creatures have, but I don't know, if you're running an aquarium you should probably make sure a crayfish has space to stretch its antennae out without touching the sides of its tank. It helps to avoid an overall ambience which makes a toddler whose favourite book is Tip Tap Went The Crab (A Counting Story) shake her head and say 'No, no, no, no.'
The Lyme Regis Marine Aquarium is about five yards from the end of the Cobb off of which Meryl Streep threw herself and I don't think that can be a coincidence.