A weather eye
Published: Oct 25, 2017The changing seasons and the changing weather at Torquay's coastal zoo.
We live with the weather at Living Coasts. Our coastal zoo lives up to that description – it’s right on the coast. Its feet are in the water, its face is in the salt sea air. The changing seasons bring us weather and people in varying quantities. Sometimes the weather comes gently, serenely – and sometimes it comes in buckets.
One day last week started with a clear, still dawn; a sky like coloured glass, a benign sea and a tight nip of pleasant cold in the air. But autumn can be an animated season: I do like being at Living Coasts in a high wind. It blows through the net and blows through your head. The howl of the wind is like something alive. Stand up near the waders and hear the wires ring.
On a stormy winter’s day, being at Living Coasts is like being on a ship without the sea-sickness. The roaring sea gales whip the grey water into white waves that break on our stone prow. The rigging of the aviary rattles as the nets billow like sails. Winter waves can break over the terrace that in summer is crowded with people taking tea in the sunshine.
In winter, big - real-life - ships seek shelter in the arms of Tor Bay. But even the protected waters of Tor Bay can move like muscle under skin.
The big skies of spring bring high, hazy clouds and a sun growing in warmth. The shoots and buds of new life start to appear in our sheltered little bowl. While we’re open every day but Christmas Day, Easter is when the place really comes back to life.
Summer is naturally our busiest time of year. People bask in the warmth like seals, then retreat to the cool underground areas - the aquarium, the seal and penguin pool windows. Locals and visitors mingle on the terrace, taking advantage of the panorama of the Bay. Summer can offer a glimpse of dolphins breaking the shining water. Out on the rocks just offshore, the Inner Millstone and the Outer Millstone, shags and cormorants hang their wings out to dry.
Then we’re back to autumn…