Torquay’s coastal zoo and aquarium is well known for its characteristic aviary net. The outline of the aviary, which in places measures up to 22 metres in height, can be seen from miles around. The net’s surface area is almost 1.4 acres and encloses 1.8 million cubic feet of free flight space for Living Coasts’ collection of birds such as Inca terns, pied avocets, oyster catchers, guillemots and tufted puffins. 

Living Coasts boasts an idyllic location on the shores of Torquay’s harbour. However, the downside is that the net has to face storms head-on; and even the sun’s ultra violet rays can weaken the netting’s fibres.

There is a rolling programme to replace sections of net. Bristol based company Base Structures, who specialise in tensile fabric structures, have just completed the latest phase, replacing seven panels of netting surrounding the Auk Cliff exhibit. 

Qualified rope access technicians have to climb the masts, haul the new panels up on pulleys and stitch them into place. This time their work was hampered by ferocious winter storms and winds of up to 50 mph. The Base team will be returning in November 2016 to refresh another part of the aviary.

Living Coasts net facts:

  • The net is held up by 35 masts
  • The masts range in height from 2 to 22 metres
  • The surface area of the net is 5,500 square metres (approx. 59,000 square feet or nearly 1.4 acres)
  • The net creates a volume of 50,000m3 or 1.8 million cubic feet of free flight
  • There are 14 roof net panels in total, along with 27 wall nets and 3 internal dividing nets
  • The netting is made from 25mm x 25mm high density polyethylene (HDPE)
  • The nets are held in place by special Dyneema fibre maritime ropes

Quotes All the animals are lovely with plenty of space to move about and play. Quotes