After 54 years, multiple iterations and many different names, Manly Sea Life Sanctuary will close for good on January 28.
The three-level aquarium has undergone a number of makeovers over the years – formerly known as Marineland, Underwater World and Coral World, among others – but in March last year, current operator Merlin Entertainments announced it would not be renewing its lease.
After a comprehensive assessment of the facility, the British-based company decided with a “heavy heart” necessary upgrades to the building and supporting infrastructure simply weren’t feasible.
Home to sharks, stingrays, penguins and other sea creatures of all shapes and sizes, the attraction’s “Breed, Rescue and Protect” ethos will guide the rehoming of its residents in coming months.
The site is owned by the NSW Roads and Maritime Service, which has ruled out a potential residential revamp of the prime real estate, according to the Sydney Morning Herald due to its zoning.
A spokesperson told the newspaper the service has "been approached by several parties with an interest in taking on the site once the aquarium departs the site this year”, but as it’s Zone W2 can only be used for purposes under the “recreational waterways” umbrella, such as boat ramps, sheds and charter facilities; environmental facilities and protection works; kiosks; marinas, wharfs or other mooring structures.
It’s possible the site could be rezoned in the future, but there are no current plans to do so and the Northern Beaches local council would need to approve the change.
For now, the sanctuary will be spending its final days celebrating its rich legacy, and those wishing to farewell Myrtle the rescue Green Sea Turtle will need to make it snappy.