Some of the world’s best aquariums and marine sanctuaries now have webcams and livestreams of their waters and tanks, so you can see all sorts of beautiful aquatic creatures floating and flipping around – and crowding to the surface for feeding times.
We’ve been trawling the web to bring you the best free online views of sharks, seal lions, penguins, turtles – and even the odd warty frogfish, sea nettle and octopus.
Here’s our pick of the best online aquarium webcams and livestreams…
1. Turtles, rays and sharks at the National Marine Aquarium
The staff of Plymouth National Marine Aquarium are live-streaming the feeding of many of their sea creatures – and children can watch as the Aquarium staff show and explain the feeding habits of (and other fun facts about) of, among others, turtles, rays, sharks, and a giant Pacific octopus. You can find the live sessions on the National Marine Aquarium Facebook page – and there are a few saved to their YouTube page, too – along with a funny 30-second video of dancing scuba-divers!
Look out for the live Shark and Turtle feeding session.
We also like their new Aquarium Relax videos: super-soothing recorded livestreams (on YouTube or Facebook) of various beautiful fish swimming around, with a chilled soundtrack. Grab a cuppa, turn down the lights and take in the fish…
2. Sea lions at the US National Maritime Sanctuary
Dive into a virtual ocean for the National Marine Sanctuary’s breathtaking 360° deep-sea tour – and spot the sea lions coming to play!
Filmed in the waters around the Channel Islands (not the British ones; the ones off the coast of Los Angeles in the US), this guided dive (with music, splashes and bubbles) follows scuba divers as they swim in an underwater kelp forest and are joined by flipping, frolicking sea lions.
If you watch the film on a laptop, you can click and drag the direction icon (like on Google maps) and make the picture swing and turn through an incredible 360°. You’ll want to watch it again and again and spot new things each time! Check out the gallery of 360° photos, too, including cool wrecks, corals and sponges, and the world’s only underwater research station.
3. Sharks, moon jellies and penguins at the Aquarium of the Pacific
This US aquarium based at Long Beach, California, has several 24-hour livestream webcams of sharks, their tropical reef exhibit, their blue cavern exhibit, moon jellies, sea nettles – and penguins, both below and above the water. It’s amazingly calming watching the penguins swim – or waddle – around: perfect when you need some relaxing time for the whole family.
Remember that California is 7 hours behind us, though, so it’s night-time there until early afternoon in the UK. There is a night cam but it’s a better show altogether in the (US) day.
4. Warty frogfish, octopus, mantis and penguins at Shedd Aquarium
Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium Instagram page is a delight, offering gorgeous pics and really amazing video of their marine creatures, including a warty frogfish (above, left), a deadly peacock mantis (above, right) and an octopus having an ‘enrichment’ session. Stars of the show, though, are penguins Edward and Annie wandering around (in the absence of human visitors), looking inquisitively all the other tanks of fish. Edward and Annie are a proper couple, a bonded pair of Rockhopper penguins, who are due to soon start to build their nest.
5. Penguins at Edinburgh Zoo
OK, so it’s not strictly an aquarium but Edinburgh Zoohas a great live penguin cam on which you can watch their penguins hop and waddle around.
Right now, it’s Rockhopper Penguin nesting season, which means these brilliant, spiky yellow-feathered penguins, have laid their eggs –and there’s a special separate webcam just for them. If you watch regularly, you may even be lucky enough to spot the newly-hatched chicks emerging from their nests.
Rockhoppers have been given their name as they hop from rock-to-rock rather than waddle. Hmm, are penguins are more bird or more sea creature? What do you reckon?