‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ shark Neville escapes bullies and swims to pastures new at Manchester Sea Life centre

By Helen Le Caplain

In Blackpool I was born and raised, on the ocean bed was where I spent most of my days, chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin’ all cool.

When a couple of sharks they were up to no good, started making trouble in my neighbourhood…

In an attempt to stop Zebra shark Neville having the same fate as Will Smith and getting into trouble he’s been shipped out from Blackpool Fresh Prince-style to settle into his new home at Manchester Sea Life centre.

Entering your teenage years is tough enough for anyone to cope with; there are changes to your body, angst-ridden searches to discover who you really are and trying to fit in with others.

But when your peers are some of the world’s most feared creatures and the numbers of your own kind are in steady decline it seems wise to swim to pastures, or tanks, new.

Zebra shark Neville made the short journey down the M6 from the brights lights of Blackpool to his new urban home in Manchester’s Sea Life centre yesterday.

He can now enjoy his teenage years in peace away from the teasing clutches of brown sharks, a 6ft Bowmouth shark and a Black Tip Reef.

Lucy Handel, curator at Sea Life Manchester, said: “Neville is just at that funny age now where he is too big for his old home but might get bullied a little bit by the big boys in the main ocean tank in Blackpool. 

“We don’t want that and luckily have the perfect home for him in our bay of rays with our six super friendly Cownose rays, two Blue Spotted stingrays and a Banded Bamboo shark in the ray tank.

“Providing the exact right environment for our creatures is of utmost importance to us at Sea Life and the variety of different habitats and tanks in our attractions means that sometimes a short geographical move can be the perfect and most simple solution.

“We can’t wait to welcome Neville and are pleased to be able to help our colleagues from Blackpool out in providing a temporary home for him.”

Zebra sharks swap their stripes for spots as they mature and Neville has been showing signs of the transformation for a few days now, signifying that the time has come for him to move to a new environment. 

Luckily the attraction won’t be all new to Neville as Myke Bell, one of the dive team in Manchester, is also from the Blackpool aquarium so he will have a friendly face to help him settle in.


Neville’s new home in the tropical ray tank at the attraction in the city’s intu Trafford Centre will be the perfect size for him to grow enough to return to the larger tank at Sea Life Blackpool.

There he will be put on stud duties and housed with a female ready for mating.

Currently just 90cm long Neville could eventually grow to a huge 11ft and live for a maximum of 30 years. 

Found in coral reefs with a sandy bottom in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific Zebra sharks are vulnerable in the seas due to heavy fishing and the breeding programme of which Neville will become the star in Blackpool hopes to boost numbers.

For more information about Sea Life Manchester visit

Pictures courtesy of Carl Sukonik The Vain Photography, with thanks

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