Take a walk on the wild side, underwater

A smiling David, left
A smiling David, left
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In the first of a summer series, David, 12, launches his days out testers with a Sea Trek at Manchester’s Sea Life Centre. Next week, he’s on the Tarzan Swing at Rivington’s Go Ape

When my step dad asked if I wanted to spend a couple of hours in the company of man eating creatures or go shopping with my mum, I asked if it was a trick question.

But he assured me he was serious.

So naturally I decided diving into the murky depths with carnivorous creatures had to be safer than braving the Next summer sale with my mum. You’ve never seen her rattling through the sale rails for a bargain – it’s a scary sight.

The dangerous sea-dwelling creatures he had in mind were reef sharks, giant sea turtles, stingrays and more.

“So where are we heading then?,” I inquired. “Egypt, the Maldives, the Caribbean.”

“Manchester!”, he replied.

Yes, you read right – Manchester. I was going to be donning a wet suit to get up close and personal with some of the greatest creatures on earth less than 30 miles down the motorway at the Trafford Centre.

Well, at least my mum still could still check out the Next summer sale while I diced with death underwater.

The Sea Trek attraction is part of the shopping centre’s new Sea Life aquarium. The first of its kind in Europe, it lets people get on the artificial seabed without having to learn to dive, and without 
having to travel halfway around the world.

After a quick safety briefing we were kitted out with our wetsuits and Crocs and taken up to the 11.5ft-tall tank, which is filled with 480,000 litres of water.

I waited on the bridge as my step-dad went first.

The instructors fitted him with an astronaut-style helmet, which allows you to breath under water without even getting your hair wet.

That’s a bonus because he is pretty precious about his hair.

The helmet weighs 32kg out of the water, but thankfully only weighs 6kg once underwater.

It is connected to an air pipe that pumps in three times as much purified air as a human needs.

I’ve always thought my step dad is a bit of an air head, so this just proved the point.

I watched nervously as he headed in.

Rays swooped past his head and sharks glided past.

When it was my turn, it took me a minute to get used to the water before heading down.

It’s a strange feeling but I soon got used to things when confronted by the technicolour scene around me.

I looked around and there were fish everywhere, all colours and sizes.

Within seconds I had fish nipping at my fingers and head butting my helmet.

There are around 35 species in total.

Above our heads the white tipped reef sharks prowled while the nocturnal black tipped sharks swept along the bottom of the tank. Thankfully they’d been fed so I lived to see another day.

My favourite underwater resident was Ernie – a 
giant green turtle originally from the Cayman Islands.

We were told later that he was rescued from certain death to be brought over to the UK.

Watching him explore his new home, he certainly seems quite happy in Manchester.

One of the most fun parts was waving at the crowds of people, including my mum and baby sister, gathered outside the tank.

After around 10 minutes exploring the underwater world, we headed back on to dry land.

The only problem was, mum still had her sights fixed on the Next sale. But not even that could detract from a brilliant day out.

* Sea Life is open from 10am-7pm every day of the week, with the last admission at 5pm.

Tickets are £12 per person for the aquarium and are available online at www.visitsealife.com or by calling 0871 221 2483. SeaTrek is £60, including a visit to the aquarium.