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Yarmouth Sea Life centre's U-bend stunt

PUBLISHED: 07:00 02 December 2009 | UPDATED: 15:28 06 July 2010

Chistine Pitcher, display supervisor for the Sealife centre, Great Yarmouth, with the toilet in a fish tank, display.

Chistine Pitcher, display supervisor for the Sealife centre, Great Yarmouth, with the toilet in a fish tank, display.

Anthony Carroll

It is enough to even send fish around the bend - or should that be U bend.

And visitors may be excused for thinking that Great Yarmouth's Sea Life Centre has gone down the pan with its latest display tank.

It is enough to even send fish around the bend - or should that be U bend.

And visitors may be excused for thinking that Great Yarmouth's Sea Life Centre has gone down the pan with its latest display tank.

But as this submerged toilet surrounded by cuckoo wrasse draws curious visitors it is helping to send out an important message about the dangers of people flushing away cotton buds and plastic tops.

Staff at Sea Life are flushed with success as their toilet tank is successfully being used to show people how toilet waste can kill marines creatures and wash up as rubbish on beaches.

Cotton buds, razor caps, plasters and other sanitary and hygiene products are small enough to avoid being screened out by the region's sewerage system and so end up in the North Sea.

Every year millions of disposable sanitary and hygiene items end up floating off or on the region's coast.

For fish off the region's coast, such as cuckoo wrasse, eating a tiny bit of plastic can prove fatal as it slowly destroys their stomachs over several weeks.

Graceful turtles are at particular risk of dying from swallowing flushed plastic items.

And clearing washed up cotton buds from beaches is estimated to cost English and Welsh coastal councils £14m a year.

Although the lavatory tank is sending out a powerful environmental message, staff admit there is an element of toilet humour to the new exhibition.

As families view the tank, aquarium staff cheekily ask children if they can spot a bog fish hiding around the toilet - even though no such animal exists.

And a plastic duck and a copy of the Practical Fishkeeping magazine can be spotted in the toilet tank.

Christine Pitcher, displays supervisor, said: “Kids really love the toilet tank When children see it they all shout “Look there's a toilet!” and run over.

“We want people to think carefully about what they flush down their toilets. Flushing cotton buds and other items can have a very detrimental effect to marine life.

“Fish, such as these cuckoo wrasse, could die within two weeks of eating anything plastic - it is as simple as that.

“What we want is for people to bin things instead of flushing them away.”

Every year it is estimated that two billion sanitary and hygiene items are flushed down the toilet in Britain ever year killing tens of thousands of marine creatures.

In 2007 the Marine Conservation Society found 16,000 washed up cotton buds on 354 beaches during a national beach clean survey.

Yarmouth's Sea Life Centre has also welcomed three new penguins named Rosie, Mumbles and Woody to its penguin enclosure which has four other penguins.


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