Saving Dory: Shopping centre to become underwater paradise in conservation drive

PUBLISHED: 14:41 19 July 2016 | UPDATED: 14:41 19 July 2016

Laura Smith (left)  marine biologist with the AquariumGroup, with Ronni Alger of the Entertainer, at Broadway Shopping Centre Bexleyheath.

Laura Smith (left) marine biologist with the AquariumGroup, with Ronni Alger of the Entertainer, at Broadway Shopping Centre Bexleyheath.

The project is aimed at persuading people not to buy real-life Dory fish

A Bexleyheath shopping centre is to be transformed into an underwater paradise as part of a Finding Dory-themed conservation project.

Four giant fish tanks and a see-through wall tank will be central attractions in the week-long marine life spectacle at Broadway Shopping Centre, which is set to coincide with the launch of the Disney Pixar film.

Marine biologist Laura Smith, 27, is helping to create the installation to persuade parents not to buy real-life Dory fish for their children.

She is part of a team from Sevenoaks-based firm AquariumGroup, who will teach children about different species of tropical and freshwater fish across the world and how to help conserve them for the future.

The display will give youngsters the chance to get close to the real-life version of popular Disney characters like Nemo, a clownfish, and Dory, a Regal Tang.

Ms Smith, who completed a masters’ degree in Zoology at Bangor University, said: “With the film coming out a lot of people are talking about Dory in terms of conservation which is really positive.

“The Regal Tang is a very sensitive fish and they cannot be bred in captivity. They live in places such as Indonesia and the Philippines.

“They are no doubt a beautiful fish but there are obviously consequences if lots of children want a Dory in their tank.”

She is hoping to encourage parents to buy their youngsters a toy Dory rather than a real one.

Nemo and Dory fish come from a saltwater environment and it can cost around £1,500 to set up a very basic saltwater system with the correct lighting and filtration, making them very expensive to keep.

The Broadway Aquarium will open from Saturday, July 23 until Saturday, July 30 from 11am until 4pm. Activities include children’s workshops, face painting and an artwork installation from children’s workshops.

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