Hundreds of families attended a fun day in Aberdeen at the weekend to find out more about £10million plans to transform the north-east into a world-class destination for dolphin watching at the weekend.
The Greyhope Bay Project aims to create an ambitious marine science and heritage centre on the coast close to Torry – one of the best places in the UK to view marine life.
The proposal comes after five years of RSPB Scotland’s hugely successful Dolphinwatch project at the nearby Torry Battery, which has so far attracted more than 15,000 visitors eager to spot the city’s famous dolphin population.
And this weekend the mastermind behind the proposals, marine biologist Fiona McIntyre, hosted two special events in a glass-fronted marquee at the site to show the north-east community all that Greyhope Bay could offer.
With a glitzy gala on Friday night, and a family fun day on Saturday, thousands of visitors made the trip to the site of the proposed development to get a taste of what the completed centre would look like.
Through virtual reality experiences, attendees were invited to see for themselves the features and scope of the project, including plans for a wildlife viewing platform, conference rooms, a restaurant and theatre spaces.
On Friday evening, guests enjoyed a spectacular night of entertainment, including a performance by 1980s pop sensation Hue and Cry.
And on Saturday, families were able to get up close and personal with the north-east marine life and learn more about the educational aspects of the Greyhope Bay Project thanks to a touch pool full of aquatic animals, experts from the RSPB, and a life-size inflatable minke whale.
Miss McIntyre said that despite the mist on Saturday restricting the usually beautiful views across Aberdeen Harbour, more than 3,000 people visited the marquee to learn about the project.
She said: “This weekend has truly exceeded all expectations.
“The room was packed all through the day on Saturday, the haar had been in all morning so unfortunately people weren’t able to see the view but so many people still came out to find out about Greyhope and show their support.
“I think people are really excited for the project and what we’ve got planned for the centre, and I can’t thank the community enough.
“A lot of people are really taken by the idea and what it can do for the city, this weekend has shown that there really is a big appetite for this centre in the local community, and we couldn’t be more grateful.”
Scientists and researchers from a variety of local and national organisations were also on hand to teach youngsters and visitors all about the ecosystems of the north-sea, including dolphin and whale rescue volunteers who save the marine
mammals from beaching, and staff from Marine Scotland who explained the dangers posed to wildlife by plastics polluting Scotland’s waters.
Nick Bailey, a fisheries advisor at Marine Scotland, spent the day answering questions from families and youngsters keen to learn more about the precious underwater ecosystems just off the coast of Aberdeen.
He said: “Once it’s up and running, Greyhope will have exhibition facilities in which various pieces of science that are
conducted by Marine Scotland will be presented for the public to have a look at.
“So in addition to its obvious benefits of drawing people’s attention to the fantastic marine mammals you’ll be able to see from the site, it will give the opportunity to portray in a public space some of the important science that goes on to support and maintain these populations of marine mammals in the north-east.
“In my personal view, I think it will be a hugely positive development for Aberdeen.”
To find out more about the project, visit www.greyhopebay.org.uk