Ilfracombe Aquarium


Ilfracombe Aquarium is located on Ilfracombe Pier and offers a fascinating glimpse into the world beneath the waters surface. There are many fish to seen that live within Ilfracombe Harbour and along North Devons coast. There are also insights into local freshwater eco systems and the creatures that live within. An ideal place to visit in conjunction with a fishing trip to Ilfracombe Pier where members of Combe Martin SAC club recorded over thirty species during February and March of 2024.

Ilfracombe Aquarium consists of Local Aquatic Exhibits, Pier Café & Gift Shop. It is a much loved, award winning, and ever evolving, all-weather, family fun, educational attraction. It is located in the Old Lifeboat House on the pier. Conveniently located, it is surrounded by Ilfracombe’s picturesque & historic harbour which is home to Damien Hirst’s Verity sculpture and 14th century St. Nicholas’ Chapel. Ilfracombe town is located on the dramatic and spectacular North Devon coast. It is 20 mins. drive from Barnstaple, 10 mins. from Woolacombe. It is set within the North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).


Job Opportunity at Ilfracombe Aquarium


A unique opportunity has arisen at Ilfracombe Aquarium with a position that would suit many keen aquarists. See details of vacancy below : –

Ilfracombe Aquarium Vacancy

Part-time Aquarist/Visitor Engagement Assistant

General Description

Based at the aquarium, the chosen candidate will assist in the overall, daily operations of the aquarium with the majority of time allocated to exhibit area servicing and management.


These include; maintenance of aquatic life support, daily husbandry work for the animals, meeting nutritional requirements and feeding practises, health and hygiene, record keeping in accordance with Zoo License requirements, engagement with health and safety policies and general planning ahead to support the collection and other colleagues.

The role will be hands-on, assisting in the preparation of front of house and the exhibit area before visitor arrivals, ongoing daily maintenance and carrying out a closing down procedure.

Visitor engagement is a key part of the role. This includes general interaction with the customers, providing educational talks, feeding demonstrations, sharing points of interest and assisting with children’s quizzes.

The exhibit team here is established with many years of experience. They remain a wholly motivated, friendly and passionate team with their primary role being in promoting local wildlife, habitats and environmental awareness to visitors. They currently care for approximately 70 species of native freshwater and marine life in their recreated natural habitats. They look forward to welcoming the chosen candidate and will support their training in order to establish them as a key supportive and valued team member.

Employment details

Job Type: Part-time

Salary: From £11.44 per hour

Expected hours: 10 – 30 per week (subject to seasonal demands).

Benefits: Employee discount

Schedule: Monday to Friday & weekend availability

Start date; 04/03/24

Requirements; Essential and Preferred Skills

  • Education: Certificate of Higher Education (preferred)
  • Experience: Animal care including aquatics: 2 years (preferred)
  • Customer facing work &/or experience.
  • Highly motivated, energetic and reliable team player.
  • To have passion for wildlife and possess environmental and conservation credentials.
  • Excellent communication skills and confidence to communicate clearly with children, disabilities and other audiences.
  • Quick to learn and approve aquarium ethos and practises.
  • Practical and good at problem solving.
  • Dynamic; able to offer ideas. Develop teaching resources for formal and informal education.
  • Full clean driving license


Submissions to include expression of interest, CV and referee/reference details. Send ASAP to e[email protected]

Those successful at application will be invited to interview.

Ilfracombe Aquarium
The Old Lifeboat House
The Pier
North Devon
EX34 9EQ01271 864533

The Fascination of Ilfracombe Aquarium

As an angler I guess it is inevitable that I have always been fascinated by aquariums and can remember clearly the excitement of viewing fish at close quarters within seaside aquariums whilst on holiday in Cornwall. The aquariums at Looe and Fowey were always fixtures on our annual family holiday to Cornwall especially if the weather was a little inclement.

During the Combe Martin SAC Fun Fish in September the Ilfracombe Aquarium team got involved and an invite to visit the aquarium that is tucked away in a corner of the pier car park followed. Hard to believe that the aquarium has been running for over fifteen years and is expanding its range of exhibits each year.

Pauline and I were greeted by Senior Aquarist Steve Corcoran who immediately made us welcome and infected us with his enthusiasm for the venue. The aquarium displays an amazing array of over 75 species to be found in the waters of North Devon from rivers high on the moors to the sea off Ilfracombe.

The exhibits are carefully chosen with only fish that are suitable for a captive environment selected. The welfare of the fish is undoubtedly paramount with all the fish in good condition and the tanks exceptionally clean.The aquarium are working to assist CEFAS based in Lowestoft with species acquisition. Several dragonets have been donated this year for breeding trials. They, however do not regulate our zoo license as such.  A zoo license is issued through North Devon Council with  practices needing to comply with Secretary of State ‘Standards of Modern Zoo Practice’ 2012. DEFRA are the public body that regulates these standards. . Any fish that outgrow their tanks have to be transferred to other aquariums such as Plymouth. For this reason large fish such as conger are not kept as they can grow very quickly and become aggressive if not fed frequently.

The whole place had a sort of Tardis like feel with far more on display than the exterior appearance of the building suggests. The display boards on the walk around are filled with fascinating facts about the environment, history and the array of captive creatures. Partnership with environmental groups such as the Marine Conservation Society and Exmoor National park is clearly evident.

The large seawater tank held a splendid selection of good sized fish from local waters including thornback ray, small eyed ray, spotted ray, pollock, bass, tub gurnard, grey mullet and plaice.

Surprisingly though it was not the big fish that we found to be most captivating but the smaller fish such as the dragonets with their  stunning sapphire eyes and bristling demeanor. Pipefish, gobies, topknots, sole and sand smelt were amongst other fascinating fish on display.

Other fascinating creatures were the tiny cuttlefish that had an almost alien appearance as they hovered within the water coming alive when Steve added some particles of food to the tank. Watching the way fish feed is an interesting aspect of the aquarium that will I feel fire the imagination of any visiting angler. Ammo Frozen baits are amongst the suppliers of food to the aquarium who are keen only to use fish that are caught using sustainable methods.

I was delighted to discover that some of the pouting swimming in the tanks were provided by anglers taking part in one of our previous fun fishing events.

The complex has a pleasing top deck where a coffee and a snack can be enjoyed alfresco with a lower eating area if the weather is not kind.

The gift shop has an array of quirky and fishy goods to tempt members of the family. I would highly recommend a visit before the venue closes for the winter at the end of November.