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Dive to the depths of the deep blue at Ocean Floor, our extraordinary exhibit dedicated to the weird and wonderful species that dwell in the cold dark of the seabed.

When it comes to marine exploration, the ocean floor continues to serve up new discoveries and never-before-seen species. Aside from space, it really is the final frontier – a place where unique animals have evolved to survive in a seemingly inhospitable environment.

It’s this extraordinary marine habitat that provides the backdrop to the Ocean Floor exhibit at Bristol Aquarium. Look down upon our huge native display and see this spectacular tank from a whole new angle. Plus, take a look at our many smaller tanks, each filled with interesting species from the depths of the sea.

What is the Ocean Floor’s atmosphere like?

Ocean Floor at Bristol Aquarium is dedicated to showcasing the myriad species that dwell at the bottom of our native sea beds – from the smooth-hound shark (Mustelus) to the Atlantic wreckfish (Polyprion americanus). Since these animals are accustomed to cold-water conditions that we humans simply couldn’t survive, our specialist aquaria tanks are maintained at a temperature of 8°C-17°C – mimicking the chilly conditions of the seafloor.

While 8°C might sound a tad uncomfortable, remember that bottom-dwelling species can cope with significantly colder water temperatures. Some native species actually produce a type of natural antifreeze to ensure that their blood keeps flowing in the freezing depths of the North Atlantic – just one way that these extraordinary animals have evolved to survive in the deep.

What animals will you find at the Ocean Floor exhibit?

There are lots of weird and wonderful creatures that live in the depths of our seas and oceans, and many more are yet to be discovered. In fact, scientists believe that over 90% of deep ocean-dwelling species remain unclassified, which gives you an idea of the diversity of life in the deepest parts of our world.

Meanwhile, here at Bristol Aquarium, our skilled aquarists have done their best to present a diverse range of native deep-sea dwelling animals, all of which can be found residing in the depths of UK waters. Our Ocean Floor exhibit is home to 13 unique species, including large fish like the bull huss shark (Scyliorhinus stellaris) and European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) that are free to swim in our main Ocean Floor tank.

Elsewhere in the exhibit, a series of auxiliary tanks serve to house a number of other deep-sea dwelling species, including the beloved common starfish (Asterias rubens) and the majestic common octopus (Octopus vulgaris). The inclusion of these spectacular species demonstrates the diversity of life to be found at the bottom of our seas – even right here in the UK.

Here’s a closer look at some of the fascinating marine creatures to be found on the Ocean Floor…

●      Smooth-hound shark (Mustelus)

Did you know? “Mustelus” comes from the Latin word “mustela” meaning “weasel”.

●      Common starfish (Asterias rubens)

Did you know? The common starfish typically has five arms, with orange skin that gets paler in deeper waters.

●      Atlantic wreckfish (Polyprion americanus)

Did you know? The Atlantic wreckfish (or stone bass) can grow to over two metres in length!

●      Cuckoo wrasse (Labrus mixtus)

Did you know? Female cuckoo wrasse can change sex into males, making the species a protogynous hermaphrodite.

●      Bull huss shark (Scyliorhinus stellaris)

Did you know? The bull huss shark goes by several names, including nursehound, dogfish, and greater spotted dogfish. That’s despite it being a species of catshark!

●      Lesser spotted catsharks (Scyliorhinus canicula)

Did you know? Research suggests that lesser spotted catsharks have unique personalities; for example, some may be more explorative, while others are more aggressive.

●      Sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax)

Did you know? The European sea bass was first described and classified in 1758 by Swedish zoologist Carl Linnaeus.

●      Gilthead sea bream (Sparus aurata)

Did you know? Gilthead sea bream love dwelling in seagrasses on sandy seabeds, at an impressive depth of around 150 metres.


Ocean Floor, like all areas of Bristol Aquarium, is fully accessible to those with mobility issues, including wheelchair users. To find out more, please visit our accessibility page.

Who would enjoy the Ocean Floor exhibit?

Whether you’re fascinated with elusive bottom-dwellers or simply love discovering new, native species – there’s something for everyone to enjoy at Ocean Floor. Our vast seafloor-inspired main tank offers a new perspective on the creatures within, while our smaller tanks help showcase some of the most unique and highly-prized members of the Ocean Floor family.

Current Water Temp

8 – 17.5 / 46 – 63

Water Type


Climate / Biome


In This Exhibit

13 Species

Where are we?

UK | North Pacific

David Betts Photography

Favourites In This Exhibit

Native Animals

Visit our Sunken Shipwreck to meet the native animals that live along the UK coastline!

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