Lanes engineers visit the seals for aquarium clean
Lanes Group drainage engineers have cleaned a seal enclosure at an aquarium while being watched by those who have had a vested interest in the quality of their work – the seals themselves.
The seals remained in their Seal Cove home at the Blue Reef Aquarium in Tynemouth, Tyne and Wear, while the team based at the Lanes depot in Newcastle carried out their work.
Lanes Group was commissioned to use its powerful water jetting and vacuumation technology to clear an algae bloom at the attraction, and to help replace sand media in its water filter.
This helped to significantly speed up the essential maintenance work, so the habitat could be restored as quickly as possible for the seals, and visitors were inconvenienced as little as possible.
Terry McKeone, Senior Aquarist at Blue Reef, said: “Lanes Group’s service was excellent. They got the job done in half the time it normally takes us. Their team really enjoyed working alongside our seals.”
Seal Cove features man-made islands, underwater caves, diving pools and a cascading waterfall. The 800,000 litres of sea water it contains was drained before to allow cleaning to take place.
Four Harbour seals who live in the enclosure are used to contact with humans so were allowed to stay at home during the work.
Lanes Newcastle Area Development Manager Trevor Sawyer said: “It was a bit unusual to be operating in the same space as the seals, but the work went very well.
“We were supported by Blue Reef’s animal keepers at all times. Our risk assessment and methodology statement was drawn up to ensure all health and safety issues, both for the Lanes team and the seals, were fully considered.”
The Lanes team used a jet vac tanker to vacuum 7.8 tonnes of sand media from Seal Cove’s sand filters, which are two metres wide and three metres tall, and keep the sea water clean and clear.
Over time the filters become clogged with waste matter, requiring the sand to be replaced every four to five years as part of a regular maintenance programme. Lanes took away the sand for disposal at an authorised waste site.
The drainage engineers also removed algae from the walls and floors of the seal enclosure, with water jetting lances at up to 2,000 pounds per square inch – 20 times the power of an average household pressure washer.
All the work was completed in four days.
Terry McKeone said: “Algae blooms occur naturally at sea and in aquariums like ours. They are caused by high levels of nutrients in the water and strong sunlight, and turn the water very cloudy.
“It was very important to remove the algae, both to create the best living conditions for our resident seals, and so our visitors could see these very popular and impressive animals in action.”
Lanes Group has also carried out a CCTV drainage survey of the sea water outfall pipe at the aquarium – and has completed drain and gulley cleaning at the popular attraction.
Most of the cleaning was carried out by Newcastle depot jet vac engineers Paul Shacklady and George Roberts, with CCTV engineers Craig Kennedy and Shane Falcon completing the work.