Exploris aquarium reopens after £2m refurbishment
Northern Ireland's only aquarium has reopened after a £2m refurbishment, having been closed for almost two years.
Exploris in the County Down town of Portaferry was threatened with permanent closure in 2013.
But a rescue package backed by the Northern Ireland Executive and Ards and North Down Borough Council, which owns Exploris, secured its future.
A two-year-old Nile crocodile is among the new attractions at the centre.
New enclosures have been created for fish and other aquatic species at the centre.
The aquarium is also a rescue centre for sick and injured seals and staff care for rescued seal pups until they are strong enough to be released back to sea.
Ann Moreland, the general manager at Exploris, said other major changes had been made to the centre.
"The biggest change will be the inclusion of the fantastic tropical experience," she said.
"The kids will be able to come along and find Dory and Nemo along with many other species from across the world.
An outdoor otter enclosure has also been built.
"We've got two lovely little otters which the kids can get up close and personal to and watch them getting fed," said Ms Moreland.
Exploris opened on the shores of Strangford Lough in 1987 and became a significant tourist draw in the Ards peninsula.
Before its closure in November 2014, it attracted about 100,000 visitors every year.
The firm responsible for one of Belfast's top tourist attractions, the Crumlin Road Gaol, has been appointed by the council to run the aquarium on its behalf.
Environment Minister Michelle McIlveen visited Exploris last week and said she was impressed by the "high quality attraction it has now become".