Marine centre plans take off with launch of funding campaign and pop-up shop in Aberdeen shopping centre

Founder and Grayhope Bay MD, Dr Fiona McIntyre in the shop

Plans to create a £10million centre dedicated to celebrating the north-east’s marine life are progressing today with the launch of a fundraising campaign and pop-up shop.

The Greyhope Bay charity has taken over what was the Early Learning Centre in Aberdeen’s Bon-Accord Shopping Centre and filled it with displays about the ambitious project.

Tonight about 100 guests will attend a reception at the store and it opens to the public tomorrow morning.

The first step towards creating the proposed dolphin-spotting centre will be the construction of exhibition and cafe space from about 10 shipping containers at the site, near the Torry Battery.

The unique venue, called The Bridge, will cost £500,000 and supporters are being asked to donate cash to ensure it is up and running early next year.

Marine research scientist, Fiona McIntyre, is leading the project and was last night adding the finishing touches to its new city centre base.

She said: “We will be raising money at the shop, but what’s more important is spreading awareness of our plans and getting people behind them.

“If we can raise £50,000 through the crowd-funder, demonstrating the public’s appetite for it, we should be able to get match-funding and grants for The Bridge elsewhere.

“We want to highlight that Aberdeen is one of the best places in Europe to watch dolphins, you can see them almost every day.”

The pop-up shop features a cafe area with seating made from repurposed pallets, while a painstakingly crafted 3D map outlines where the centre will be located.

TV screens beam eye-catching footage of the area’s dolphin population cavorting off the coast and a table display of historic fishing tools reminds visitors of the region’s longstanding affinity with the sea.

The idea for the attraction was hatched when more than 3,500 people attended a gala day at Greyhope Bay last summer.

The shop will remain open for three months, and cash can be pledged towards the venture for eight weeks at