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Banffshire Coast News

Macduff Marine Aquarium needs your vote
Feb 24th 2016

 

The Friends of the Macduff Marine Aquarium have been successful in their application to the Tesco grant scheme being funded by the 5p carrier bag levy.

They are already winners, having been awarded a minimum of at least £8,000 which will cover the provision of some outdoor activity equipment, including a shark play sculpture, an octopus for wee ones to clamber on and a toddler seating unit in the shape of a starfish, plus a wall-mounted panel and an interpretive outdoor display.

But this award could be increased with your votes.  Three applications in the area have been shortlisted for a public vote – with the highest getting £12,000, the second £10,000 and the third £8,000.

Voting will be open in Banff, Turriff, Fraserburgh and Huntly stores – from 27th February to 6th March. 

Please vote – please pass the message on to friends and family – please spread the word on social media - and let’s get that award increased by 50%.

Every little helps!

Aquarium named as top attraction
Dec 1st 2015

The Macduff Marine Aquarium was named the top Visitor Attraction of the Year at the recent Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Awards.

The Aquarium was up against other high quality attractions from across the area, and is now automatically through to the national finals in March 2016 for the ultimate tourism Oscar - the Scottish Thistle Award.

Winning this award reflects the great efforts, enthusiasm and dedication of the Aquarium team.  It's been a great year for the Aquarium, having also won a TripAdvisor Traveller's Choice award during the summer and being ranked by the global travel community as the top aquarium in the UK.

The team will be out to build on this success in 2016.

Youngsters invited to enter the Young Fish Pie Master cooking challenge
Aug 25th 2015

Aspiring young chefs have been invited to take part in a cooking challenge at Macduff Marine Aquarium.

Next month, the visitor attraction will be celebrating fish in a different way and exploring their lives from sea to plate, including the journey in between.

The FishFest event will promote sustainable seafood through cooking demonstrations and a fun challenge to get young people interested in fish and food.

Youngsters are being encouraged to take part in the Young Fish Pie Master cooking challenge.  Children aged 12 to 17 can submit a recipe for fish pie, using locally sourced and sustainable seafood ingredients, along with some background about their recipe - whether it is a family favourite handed down through the generations or their own new twist on this traditional dish.

All entries will be seen by a panel of judges from the food industry who will then select five finalists to compete in a cook off in a marquee outside the aquarium and kick off the FishFest celebrations on Saturday 12th September.  The contestants will have an hour to assemble and cook their pies for presenting to the judges for the all-important tasting.

The winning recipe will be featured on the Banff Springs Hotel menu for a time after the competition, with the winner and family being invited to dine at the restaurant to sample the special dish.

FishFest takes place during 12th and 13th September.  In addition to the Young Fish Pie Master cook off, there will be presentations of sustainable seafood recipes, fishing heritage displays and workshops, art, music, fish biology workshops and talks from government advisors on marine conservation and fish scientists.

For details on how to enter the cook off, visit www.macduff-aquarium.org.uk or the Aquarium's Facebook page.  The closing date for entries in Friday 28th August.

Aquarium gearing up for busy summer
Jul 14th 2015

With the schools out for summer, the staff at Macduff Aquarium are looking forward to a busy season full of visitors to take part in activities and fun with the fabulous marine life of the Moray Firth.

The attraction, which is entering its 19th year, offers a very educational and enjoyable day out for youngsters this summer.  A journey through the aquarium will take visitors through the exhibits displaying coastal and shallow water sealife such as an array of fish, lobsters, crabs, octopus and jellyfish.

A star attraction to the aquarium is Jemima the halibut, who has recently acquired 2 new potential mates brought in to keep her company.  This is extremely important as halibut are an endangered species of fish. 

The aquarium has scheduled diving into the kelp reef 3 times a week (Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m.) where visitors get to see divers hand-feed the fish while guides give a talk about the marine life in the main theatre where visitors watch from the main window. 

The aquarium is for all ages from babies to older children to grandparents.  From the educational benefits with the kids' quizzes that are included in your visit to the looks of fascination of the younger children as they look upon over 50 species of fish and more than 90 animal species.

The Aquarium is open Monday to Friday from 10.00 to 17.00, and from 11.00 to 17.00 on Saturdays and Sundays, with talks and feeding running each day.

For more information, phone 01261 833369.

Pirates set to invade fun day at Macduff Marine Aquarium
Jun 4th 2015

Staff at a popular north-east aquarium are preparing to be taken over by pirates as World Oceans Day approaches.

Macduff Marine Aquarium is one of the region's top tourist attractions, and to mark the international awareness day on Sunday 7th June, it is hosting a pirate day.

The mischievous crew will be spending the day at Macduff Marine Aquarium, canvassing visitors and drumming up support and awareness of the natural marine environment.  World Oceans Day is an opportunity to get out and enjoy the marine environment, whether you have a walk on the beach, take a boat trip, or come and find out more at the aquarium.  You'll be surprised how exciting the sea can be.

The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society will be joined by Aberdeenshire Ranger Service to take visitors on a tour of the beach and keep an eye out for passing marine mammals.

Inside, young visitors can join in a whole host of games and art activities, as well as a treasure hunt through the aquarium.

Zoos and aquariums around the world take part in World Oceans Day each year using it as an opportunity to focus on raising awareness of the marine ecosystem and promoting further education amongst members of the public.

Open evening focussing on Aquarium support group
Mar 11th 2015

A new group has been formed to support one of the area's most popular tourist attractions.

Friends of Macduff Marine Aquarium (FOMMA) recognises the Aquarium as one of the community's greatest assets, a valuable education resource, an important and popular part of the area's tourism product, and, with its continually changing and moving exhibits, a great place to visit time and again.

The Aquarium is of interest to all ages and closely linked to the history and heritage of the community with whom strong links have been forged, ranging from visits by schools and youth groups, through to local fishermen and divers who help with collecting fish for the exhibits.

The Aquarium shows the Moray Firth's marine life in all its wonderful diversity through displays showcasing different habitats, arranged around a central deep tank, with shoals of many types of fish that can be seen in very realistic environments.  Information boards give visitors an insights into the many species, and helpful staff are on hand to answer questions.

FOMMA has been created by a group of enthusiasts, intending to inspire and promote understanding, appreciation, consideration, protection and conservation of Moray Firth wildlife and its environment by supporting and assisting the Aquarium.

FOMMA has invited the public to an informal event on Thursday 12th March - between 7 and 9 p.m. - where they can find out more about the group and its plans, look around the Aquarium at night, offer suggestions as to how they think the Aquarium could develop, and hopefully provide support, with some becoming members of the group, either individually, as families, or as a business.

For a modest annual membership, the privilege gains access to exclusive events during the year, the opportunity to look behind the scenes at the Aquarium and to receive a newsletter.

More information can be obtained by e-mailing FOMMAquarium@gmail.com

 

Award-winning author launches latest novel in Banff
Jan 7th 2015

Award-winning author Stuart MacBride is launching his latest novel - "The Missing and the Dead" - at Banff Academy.  The event will include a talk and a book signing.  Tickets (free) are available at Macduff Library, or by calling the Library on 01261 833289.

The book is the latest instalment in the career of MacBride's jaundiced hero, Detective Inspector Logan MacRae.  It is set in Banffshire, where the body of a young girl is washed up on a beach, sparking a murder investigation.  The novel features many local references, and the front cover features a depiction of Tarlair's open air swimming pool.  The synopsis reads:  "One mistake can cost you everything...  When you catch a twisted killer, there should be a reward, right?  What acting Detective Inspector Logan MacRae gets instead is a 'development opportunity' out in the depths of rural Aberdeenshire.  Welcome to divisional policing - catching drug dealers, shop lifters, vandals and the odd escaped farm animal.  Then a little girl's body is washed up just outside the sleepy town of Banff, kicking off a massive man hunt.  The major investigation team is up from Aberdeen, wanting answers, and they don't care who they trample over to get them.  Logan's got enough on his plate keeping B Division together, but DCI Steel wants him back on her team.  As his old colleagues stomp around the countryside, burning bridges, Logan gets dragged deeper and deeper into the investigation.  One thing is clear:  there are dangerous predators lurking in the wilds of Aberdeenshire, and not everyone is going to get out of this alive..."

Stuart MacBride describes the Banffshire Coast as very dramatic, the perfect setting for a crime novel and one of his favourite bits of Scotland as well.  For more information on the author, visit:  http://bit.ly/1CovEMo

Lots of festive fun at the Macduff Marine Aquarium
Dec 9th 2014

Santa Claus is leaving no stone unturned, no chimney unclimbed - and now no rockpool unexplored.  Santa is coming to the Macduff Marine Aquarium at 2pm on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th to give the fish in the main tank their presents. 

There will be lots of festive fun to enjoy, including the Twelve Days of Fishmas Trail and a Christmas cracker joke competition.

The weekend's festive feast marks the end of a successful year at the Aquarium.  The annual Shark Season fortnight in October drew record numbers, and the recent release of 2 adult conger eels into the Moray Firth was heralded as a conservation victory.

Macduff plays host to BBC Filming
Nov 24th 2014

Macduff has played a starring role in an eagerly-awaited TV adaptation of a thriller written by one of Scotland's best-loved authors and set in the North-east of Scotland.

The BBC Scotland co-production with Glasgow-based Slate films of the late Iain Banks' novel "Stonemouth" will feature Macduff as the backdrop to a tale of crime, corruption and coming of age set in a fictional town on the Aberdeenshire coast.

The cast is led by Peter Mullan (star of Trainspotting, War Horse and Sunshine on Leith), Gary Lewis (star of Game of Thrones), Sharon Small (star of the Inspector Lynley Mysteries), Christian Cooke and Charlotte Spencer.  The production will be the first time any of Iain Banks work has been dramatised for TV following his death in 2013.  "Stonemouth" is the only novel Iain Banks set in the North-east.

Shark myths set to be debunked
Oct 15th 2014

Sharks have a fearsome reputation as man-eaters and villains.

But the organisers of Macduff Marine Aquarium's shark season are aiming to dispel those myths.

A fortnight of educational events will showcase the centre's six local species and offer visitors an insight into the lives of the misunderstood predators.

Up until Sunday 26th October, the tourist attraction will be welcoming families with a host of new events.  There is such a wide diversity of sharks, rays and skates that live in our oceans - and the Moray Firth is visited by over 30 different species of these amazing animals.  Sharks have been very important to our lives in the past and continue to be a source of medicinal development for our future too. 

The Aquarium is home to six species of shark found in the seas around Banff, and has its own shark nursery, where baby dogfish and rays are hatched and cared for before they are released into the wild. 

The events running until Sunday 26th October will offer visitors an opportunity to take part in illustrated talks, shark trails, artwork and games, and watch the Aquarium's scheduled feed and dive shows.  Daily interactive shark workshops will look at sharks inside and out, explore how they survive in our oceans, unveil what makes them different from other fish, and describe the role they have played in the lives of people around the world.  Fossils and shark teeth specimens will be on display, including the fossilised tooth of a Megalodon, the largest shark that ever existed. 

Dr Caroline Barelle from the University of Aberdeen will be at the Aquarium on Friday 17th to speak about her work with shark blood and how it can be used in the fight against cancer and other human illnesses.

And on Monday 20th, the Macduff Aquarium's own shark biologist will be talking about her research to protect sharks in the wild and how that can also help to protect humans.

For more information, visit www.macduff-aquarium.org.uk or check out www.facebook.com/macduffmarineaquarium or call the Aquarium on 01261 833369.

Athletes say thanks with a taste of the Caribbean!
Oct 15th 2014

This summer's Commonwealth Games may now be consigned to memory, but one of the competing teams from the Caribbean has sent a memento of their time in Glasgow to Macduff Marine Aquarium.

Staff at the Aquarium got into the swing of the games by adopting the Antigua and Barbuda team, supporting them with a temporary exhibit of Antiguan fish in a special tank.  It was the first time that tropical species have been displayed at the cold water aquarium.

While the Antiguan athletes were unable to visit Macduff during their time in Scotland, they sent a token of their thanks via Grahame Ross, a volunteer who looked after the Antigua and Barbuda team.  A signed photograph of the team, along with a bottle of special Caribbean hot sauce, will be on display alongside the tank of Antiguan fish which will remain on show until the end of the Aquarium's season later this month.

Aquarium warms up for Commonwealth Games
Jul 21st 2014

Macduff Marine Aquarium is getting into the spirit of the Commonwealth Games and the Support a Second Team initiative this summer, and will be celebrating the games in a very fishy way.  Aberdeenshire Council is behind Antigua and Barbuda and the aquarium is joining in by hosting their own Antiguan team - of coral reef fish.

Normally home only to cold-water-loving inhabitants of  Scotland's Moray Firth, the aquarium is creating a special Antiguan Caribbean reef display that will showcase fish and other animals that would be very familiar to the Antiguan athletes and sports people coming to Scotland for the games.

Antigua is one of the Caribbean Leeward Islands, with white coral beaches, palm trees and secluded bays, surrounded by coral reefs.  Fish such as royal and green grammas, damsel fish, blue tangs and Caribbean cowfish are common residents of these reefs and will make a colourful splash in the aquarium's Antiguan exhibit. 

This will be a stand-along exhibit as the aquarium's system's water temperatures are way too cold for these Caribbean species that are used to balmy waters of around 25C.  It will make a fantastic comparison to their own Scottish rocky reefs featured elsewhere in the aquarium. 

 

Guide shines a light on our secret stills
Jun 12th 2014

Three local distilleries feature in a new guide - "The Secret Malts of Aberdeenshire" - which highlights the North-east's hidden distillery treasures.

Macduff Distillery, Portsoy's Glenglassaugh Distillery and the Glendronach Distillery near Aberchirder are among the new Aberdeenshire guide's "active and lost" whisky producing facilities.

"The Secret Malts of Aberdeenshire" provides a wonderful insight into the whisky heritage of our region.  Of the 8 working distilleries featured in the guide, most are relatively small in scale, but each has its own distinctive history, style and taste.  4 have small visitor centres and shops, offering regular tours led by guides; while 3 of the featured distilleries are not officially open to the public, informal tours can be organised.

Copies of the guide are now widely available free at each of the featured distilleries, at local visitor information centres, with details also available online at www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk.

Turriff, Banff and Macduff ready for the Baton
Jun 12th 2014

The Queen's Baton Relay will pass through Turriff, Banff and Macduff at the end of June - en route to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Sunday 29th June will see a packed day of events to celebrate its passage through this part of Aberdeenshire.  Although the local baton-bearers were selected some weeks ago, their identities have been kept under wraps. 

The Baton will arrive at Banff Bridge by road from Turriff at around 2.23 p.m. and special events have been organised to mark the occasion.  The highlight of the baton's visit to the area will be a short 20-minute sea passage across Banff Bay from Banff Marina to Macduff harbour aboard the Macduff lifeboat, the "Lydia MacDonald."

National and international TV crews will be in Banff and Macduff on the 29th to record the baton's visit.  To make the bay crossing as special as possible, local owners of all kinds of boats are being invited to form a flotilla in the bay to cheer the baton on its short voyage.  Canoeists and surfboarders who wish to join in the event should contact Deveron Canoe Club and Surf Scotland respectively. 

Shark's Easter Egg Marvel
Apr 18th 2014

Staff at the Macduff Marine Aquarium are celebrating an Easter Egg surprise.

A very rare double-yolked shark egg found at the Aquarium is possibly the first of its kind on record.  The egg came from a dogfish in the centre's kelp reef tank.  Staff have been raising dogfish for 16 years and this is the first time that a double-yolked mermaid's purse has been produced.

The Aquarium's shark expert has been studying and working with sharks for nearly 10 years, and has never seen or heard of twins in this species, the lesser spotted dogfish.  The female normally lays two hard egg capsules - mermaids' purses - in quick succession, but not normally two eggs in one purse.

There are no reports of this phenomenon to be found.

A young dogfish starts life as an embryo nourished by a yolk sac in the mermaid's purse.  It develops within the purse for up to 9 months, at which point it resembles a tiny shark.  It hatches and feeds on tiny crustaceans and worms on the sea bed.

Divers regularly pull mermaids' purses out of the kelp reef exhibit as the dogfish in there breed happily.  The purses are put in a nursery tank and monitored until they hatch.

Each year, some youngsters are released into the sea as part of a conservation effort to boost local populations.

Macduff Marine Aquarium reveals raft of new features for new season
Apr 15th 2014

The ever popular Macduff Marine Aquarium - recently shortlisted for the Visitor Attraction of the Year award in Aberdeen City and Shire - has had a makeover in preparation for the busy summer season. 

Among the latest additions is a beachcombing display that highlights the stories behind animal remains left on the seashore.  Shells, casts, bones, feathers and empty egg cases are available for visitors to handle as part of the interactive exhibit.  New illustrated information boards have been installed at each tank, detailing the animals' vital statistics. 

The Aquarium will also be switching on its video link with the nearby gannet colony at Troup Head.  Live images of the birds will be shown on monitors at the centre throughout the summer.

Tiddlers Fun Time at the Macduff Marine Aquarium
Jan 16th 2014

Jiggling jellyfish, weird wolf fish and colourful starfish are just some of the enormous characters that will entertain toddlers over the coming months at Macduff Marine Aquarium.

Tiddlers Fun Time, a series of fun-filled weekly sessions specifically designed for pre-school children, will lift the lid on life below the waves through themed activities, stories and games.

Following trails, taking part in hands-on activities and getting close up to wonderful seaside critters will all be part of these Fun Time sessions.  A story-time puppet show will be a highlight of the sessions; each session will introduce a marine tale with a different theme, exploring the underwater world through colour, shape and numbers, along with quests to find mermaids, monsters and treasure.

Tiddlers Fun Time runs every Monday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.  For more information, contact Macduff Marine Aquarium on 01261 833369, visit www.macduff-aquarium.org.uk, or check out the aquarium's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/macduffmarineaquarium.

Santa returning to the Macduff Marine Aquarium
Dec 10th 2013

Santa will be making his annual visit to Macduff Marine Aquarium this weekend; every year, he takes time out of his busy schedule to make a splash in the aquarium's main kelp reef exhibit, and is scheduled to scuba dive to spread some festive cheer to the fish on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th December.

Turkey will not be on the menu; the aquarium staff have ordered in the necessary ingredients for the fishes' festive feast, including squid, herring and mussels, and will prepare the gourmet Christmas dinner over the coming days.  Santa will hand-deliver the treats to each and every fish in the tank.

Visitors to the aquarium can see Santa feed the fish, enjoy activities and have their photos taken with the big red man from one of the windows into the tank.

The aquarium is open from 11.00 to 16.00, and Santa is expected to dive in at 14.00 on both Saturday and Sunday.

Rare Historical Artefact Returns to Macduff
Oct 3rd 2013

A rare historical artefact - a 19th century lithograph - is back in its spiritual home in Macduff.

One of very few surviving examples from a limited run of 200 prints made locally in the mid-1840s, the artwork will soon be handing in the Knowes Hotel in Macduff.  The hotel, owned by John and Debbie Henderson, was originally built in the mid-19th century to house the Murray Institute, known locally as the Ragged School, by London-based businessman and philanthropist John Murray.  Mr Murray contributed £40 a year - a huge amount in those days -  from his own pocket to run the Ragged School, and left a £4,000 legacy in his will.

The lithograph, which depicts a view of Victorian Macduff from Banff, was brought back to the north-east by retired businessman Tony Buckley and his wife Sue.

 

Aquarium's New Classroom Boost
Oct 3rd 2013

Macduff Marine Aquarium has launched a raft of free downloads accessible from its official website to help teachers at schools across the North-east plug into a priceless educational resource.

The Aquarium welcomes more than 3,000 schoolchildren on official guided visits every year, with classes of all ages enjoying tours through the marine habitats, fish and other wildlife of the Moray Firth.

The downloads include informtaion for teachers and a range of colourful, exciting activity sheets, covering study facets required in the Curriculum for Excellence's sciences, maths, social studies and health and wellbeing courses.

Using the resource, children can explore the life cycles of jellyfish and lobsters, compare the features of seabirds, take a peek inside the body of a fish, imagine being a fishing boat skipper and reflect on the experience of touching crabs and starfish at the Aquarium's touchpools.

Macduff Marine Aquarium signs up to summer outings scheme
Aug 2nd 2013

Macduff Marine Aquarium is one of a range of north-east tourist attractions who have signed up to a money-saving admission voucher scheme called "Naturally Great Days Out", run by VisitScotland.

More than 100 attractions throughout Scotland are all providing offers such as "child goes free" or "2 for 1" until the end of October.

The vouchers can be downloaded from www.visitscotland.com/greatdaysout and printed off to use at participating attractions.

Gannet couple are TV stars
Jun 6th 2013

Macduff Marine Aquarium has adopted two members of Troup Head's world-renowned seabird colony, just one mating pair among the many thousands of gannets currently courting, nest-building and getting down to the serious business of looking after their eggs.

Visitors to Macduff Marine Aquarium will be able to watch the birds - named George and Janet the Gannets by staff - as they come and go over the course of the breeding season, thanks to a spy-on-the-cliffs camera link which beams real-time footage to a monitor in the Aquarium's exhibition hall.

The camera link has been running for the past 6 years in conjunction with the RSPB, but this year the focus will be on one mating pair.  The Aquarium staff will be taking careful note of the milestones the pair reach and their behaviour.

The stars of the summer-long show have a large nest right in the middle of the gannet colony on Troup Head's 50-metre high, north-facing cliffs - the only place on mainland Scotland where gannets nest every year.

George and Janet's adventures can also be followed on the Aquarium's Facebook page.

See www.macduff-aquarium.org.uk for more details.

Fun-packed Festival goes back to nature!
May 8th 2013

Organisers of one of the biggest events on the Banffshire summer calendar, the COAST Festival, are in final preparations with this year's brochure now in shops and community venues.

The fun-packed initiative, in its 6th year, takes place during the final weekend of May 2013 in Banff and Macduff and the emphasis is to get the community involved as much as possible.

The theme is "Responding to Nature" and will see numerous workshops throughout the weekend which people can get involved with.

This year's aim is to have a stronger workshop programme and provide a good variety.

The full festival programme is in the brochure which is available at most shops and community venues in the area.

Underwater dwellers get home makeover
May 8th 2013

Macduff Marine Aquarium's unique kelp reef centrepiece exhibit has had a complete makeover.

Thanks to investment by Aberdeenshire Council, the aquarium team has been able to give the 400,000-litre cylindrical tank, which is five metres deep and open to the sky, a complete refit - a refit undertaken with the tank full and still fully occupied!  It was a huge operation to undertake the refit; the divers worked really hard to remove all the old rocks - wielding a sledgehammer underwater is no easy matter and all the while they had to worry about minimising disturbance to the fish. 

The commercial divers needed help from the Aquarium diver to deal with the huge lobster Huffy Horace, as he refused to move from his home, but otherwise the fish coped well, and visitors were fascinated to see the operations.

The process included the design of a new rocky theme, construction of several fake rock pinnacles that will be free-standing in the kelp tank, the removal of 8 tonnes of rubble from the tank, and the placement of the new rocks before the final addition of live kelp to recreate a natural kelp reef.

Seahorses swim into new home at Macduff
Apr 2nd 2013

The seahorse, once thought of as just a tropical fish, has proved it is a hardy species with the fish now found in Scottish coastal waters.

The species is now the focus of a new exhibit at Macduff Marine Aquarium.  Short-snouted seahourses typically live in coral reefs, but have been found living amongst algae and seagrasses around Shetland, along the West Coast and even in the North Sea.  Their populations are vulnerable, however, and protected in Scotland.

The seahorses have settled in well and are feeding on tiny shrimps.  They have no stomach and a pretty inefficient digestive system, so they need to eat a lot, which certainly keeps the Aquarium team busy.  The team hopes to breed their own seahorses in the future; it's the males that get pregnant.

The arrival of the seahorses was celebrated also through the running of a poetry competition for primary schools across the north-east - with the poems judged by local writer Esther Woolfson.  The winners will get to sponsor a seahorse for their classes. 

Macduff Marine Aquarium launches special events for toddlers
Jan 25th 2013

Macduff Marine Aquarium is holding a number of special events aimed at toddlers over the coming weeks.  Jiggling jellyfish, weird wolf fish and sneaky sharks are just some of the underwater characters standing guard over a hidden treasure trove in the depths of the visitor attraction.

Little treasure hunters have been challenged to make their way through a watery trail to find the long-lost jewels as part of the Aquarium's "Tots Tuesday" events for pre-school children.

The sessions will include interactive activities, treasure trails and crafts.  A story time puppet show will be a highlight of the sessions, and the Council's library service will provide exciting stories that encourage the enjoyment of books and language at an early age.

The five sessions will run every second Tuesday, starting 22nd January 2013, from 11.00 to 16.00 and include activities based around treasure hunting, underwater colours and pirates.

Further information can be found on the Aquarium's website - www.macduff-aquarium.org.uk, Facebook page or call 01261 833369.

Flying the Flag at Coast Festival
May 15th 2012

Organisers of Banff and Macduff's annual COAST event are planning a huge installation featuring more than 200 custom-made flags.  The piece will take pride of place at Banff Castle.  The theme of the festival is the creative individual, so the organisers are providing more than 200 blank flags that groups will be getting together to decorate.  Locals are being challenged to design a flag that best represents them or their families.  The flags will be fixed to a forest of bamboo canes.  Meanwhile 20 giant flags are being decorated by the same team behind last year's colourful umbrella project.  This year's event runs from 25th to 27th May, starting with an opening ceremony at Macduff Town Hall.

COAST Festival is tops with voting public
Mar 22nd 2012

The COAST organisers have won a popular vote for the best festival in the area for 2011.  The charitable body that supports cultural organisations in the North-east, Creative Cultures Scotland, conducted a survey in 2011 to find the best events and projects, as voted by the public, and COAST came out top in the category of festivals.  Representatives from COAST picked up their certificate at a presentation in Aberdeen.  This year's festival will feature performances, exhibitions and entertainments in Banff and Macduff.

Toddlers splash out in underwater world
Mar 6th 2012

Sea life and a world under water are opening up for youngsters at the Macduff Marine Aquarium.  Weekly sessions that allow toddlers to discover marine wonders are proving to be a hit at Macduff.  The Tots Tuesday adventures allow children to come face-to-face with sea creatures and take part in fun activities.  Children are able to take a journey through the underwater world on trails and treasure hunts to meet lobsters, sharks and jelly-fish.  They can also get their hands on starfish, sea snails and slimy seaweed.  The sessions also include a story-time puppet show which fascinates the young visitors.  Aquarium staff have joined forces with Aberdeenshire's library service to provide exciting stories on watery themes.  Part of the aim is to encourage the enjoyment of books and language at an early age.  The Tots Tuesday sessions from 11.00 to 16.00 will run until the end of March.  Full information is available from the Aquarium on 01261 833369.

Royal Visitor sees refurbished Thames-bound boat at Macduff
Mar 6th 2012

The Princess Royal was given a sneak preview (1st March 2012) of a fishing boat which will take part in the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.  Macduff Shipyards are involved in the refurbishment of a replica scaffie herring drifter - called Obair-na-Ghaol - which will sail on the Thames at London this summer as part of a huge pageant to mark the monarch's Jubilee.  It belongs to the Portsoy-based Scottish Traditional Boat Festival group and will represent Banffshire's Lord Lieutenant at the celebrations.

Funding Delivers First Major Results
Feb 16th 2012

The first elements of ground-breaking marketing initiatives for the Banffshire Coast area have now been launched.  The website now contains a new section focusing on one of the area's key attractions, Dolphins and Marine Life, as well as ideas for Great Days Out along our coastline.  These features will make it easy for visitors to find useful information not only about the wildlife, but also about the best viewing points and the range of marine attractions to visit.  The three Marine and Wildlife Itineraries provide ideas for great days out along the coastline, giving visitors lots of reasons to spend time here, whether one day, a few days or longer.  In March, the new Area Guide will be launched.

Group Gears up for COAST Festival
Jan 26th 2012

A voluntary group of local residents, artists and community organisations are now hard at work preparing for COAST 2012.  The 5th COAST Festival will take place from Friday 25th May 2012 to Sunday 27th May 2012. 

The programme will contain a range of events, with the theme for the core events being "The Creative Individual".  The Festival will be presenting experienced artists, art students, the work of traditional artisans and the often unseen work of the home-based creator.  The "Show Your Hand" exhibition will feature artworks and artifacts showing traditional artisan skills, from ceramics and leatherwork, to enamelling to smithing.  The Festival will also have family fun events, including the ever popular sandcastle competition, the spectacular duck race, and a programme of hands-on workshops for all ages.  Brochures will be available at the end of April.

If you want to create an event, please contact the organisers at info@coastfestival.org.uk.

Entries sought for Exhibition of Traditional Craft Skills
Jan 19th 2012

An exhibition of traditional craft skills will be a major part of the annual COAST Arts Festival at Banff and Macduff in May 2012.  Banff and Buchan Arts Forum is now appealing for entries for Show Your Hand which will showcase traditional pursuits from ceramics to leather work and enamelling to blacksmithing.  This will be a major exhibition for the Festival and an important way to revealing the skills that are being lost.

Sea lab boost at Macduff Aquarium
Nov 21st 2011

Visitors to Macduff Marine Aquarium can look in microscopic detail at the creatures in the Aquarium's sea lab, using binocular microscopes which can project in high definition onto a plasma screen. An underwater camera also allows the smallest sea life in the lab to be filmed and seen in intricate detail.

The new equipment is a result of a successful £2,000 bid to the People's Postcode Lottery by the Aquarium, and the Aquarium say it really enhances the Sea Lab.

Conger eel on love date from Macduff Aquarium
Nov 15th 2011

Macduff Marine Aquarium have bid a reluctant farewell to one of their biggest residents, a six foot conger eel called Rip. But Rip seemed reluctant to leave, and had to be persuaded to go when he was released into the Moray Firth just outside the aquarium.

The Aquarium's motive on letting Rip return to the wild is both compassionate and passionate. Male congers go through a mid life crisis, when they head for the only time in their lives to the breeding grounds near the Azores, off the African coast, to find a mate, and die.

Rip was named for his habit of tearing food from the divers' hands who hand feed him in the Aquarium's giant 16 five metre tank. After six years at the Aquarium, he was showing the tell-tale signs of unrequited love: leaving his permanent hidey-hole, and swimming in daylight hours.

Rip quite happily went into his escape route, a large bag. But when it was lowered by crane into the firth, it took some persuasion by the Aquarium's divers to entice him from the safety of the bag, and set off on his one way mission.

But he eventually took the plunge and was last seen heading out to sea.

New! Mobile website for the Banffshire Coast
Nov 3rd 2011

Great news for the Banffshire Coast Tourism Partnership. Our new mobile website is now live on-line, and available to all who use their mobile phones to access the internet.

This is the future! It means that folk in their cars, or in the street can find out where to go, where to shop, where to eat, where to stay etc in our area, just with a few clicks on their mobiles.

The Banffshire Coast mobile website includes some minor mods to make it easier to use and to read on small  phone screens.

Thanks go to our IT gurus at blue square for creating it.

If you don’t have an internet enabled  phone, you can get a look at the mobile website on:  http://m.banffshirecoast.com/  To see how it actually  looks on a phone screen, make your viewing window much narrower. (Of course, it is much smaller on a phone too.)

New Christmas lights
Oct 25th 2011

Macduff will be ablaze with a new set of Christmas lights this year, thanks to fundraising efforts by the Banff and Macduff Christmas Lights Association.

The lights in Banff and Macduff will be officially switched on at a ceremony on the Plainstones, on Low Street, Banff on the afternoon of Saturday November 27.

There will be stalls, Santa's grotto, horse and cart rides, Macduff RNLI, the coastguard and fire service. Music from the Banff Castle Pipe band, singers and a magician.

The event starts at 12.30pm, and the switch on is at 4.30pm.

Banffshire Coast Tourist Group Awarded Promotional Boost
Sep 30th 2011

Banffshire Coast Tourist Partnership were recently awarded £35,000 funding from a combination of the Rural Tourism Business Support project, the VisitScotland Growth Fund and Aberdeenshire Council.

Over the next 18 months, tourism businesses along the Banffshire Coast will have the opportunity to participate in several significant marketing initiatives, thanks to a recent funding award of £35,000.

The funding, from a combination of the Rural Tourism Business Support project, the VisitScotland Growth Fund and Aberdeenshire Council, will enable the Banffshire Coast Tourism Group to further develop and market the Banffshire Coast as a highly attractive visitor destination.

Roger Goodyear, Chair of the Banffshire Coast Tourism Partnership, commented: "This award is a fantastic opportunity to promote our area to both first time and returning visitors, and follows on from a very successful short marketing campaign run at the beginning of this year which resulted in visits to our website (www.banffshirecoast.com) rising by more than 1500%."

The four marketing initiatives fall under two themes - Outdoor and Ancestral.  A full-colour 48-page pocket Area Guide, to be distributed throughout Scotland and the Banffshire area, will contain high-quality imagery and editorial content to encourage both visits to and wider exploration of the area.  The other three initiatives will focus on the area's strengths of Marine Life, Walking and Birdwatching, and Ancestral.  They will all involve a combination of activities, including the creation of new sections for the website, e-flyer campaigns to targeted market segments, PR trips and familiarisation visits, as well as social media campaigns.  All four initiatives will provide tourism businesses in the area excellent opportunities to advertise their own individual offering.

Roger Goodyear commented further:  "The Banffshire Coast has a wide range of tourism attractions and services, but these have never been brought together in a way which is 'visitor friendly'.  The planned campaigns will draw all of these elements together in one place and promote comprehensive packages and itineraries to those with these specific interests - for the very first time.  We will be showing visitors just how they can spend their time in our area - whether one day, a few days or longer.  By focussing on the web and social media, we will be able to achieve more significant results than the traditional advertising routes which are out of the reach of our budget, as well as utilising the most up-to-date promotional tools.  We are very grateful to our 3 funding partners - without whom we would not be in a position to make this step change in tourism on the Banffshire Coast."

For more information, please contact:  Zillah Jamieson, Director, Banffshire Coast Tourism Partnership Limited; 01542 840314; zillahj@btinternet.com

Basking shark spotted
Sep 26th 2011

A basking shark has been spotted in Banff Bay, and photographed by a local man. An expert guessed the animal was a young male,which would probably make its way back to the Atlantic, where they are resident.

Cheaper public transport
Sep 6th 2011

Good news for the thousands of visitors who use service buses to get around.

The biggest bus operator in the North of Scotland is reducing the price of many of its multiple journey day tickets.

The firm is introducing a zonal system for calculating fares. One route to benefit is the service between Banff/Macduff/Turriff and Aberdeen, where weekly tickets are being reduced.

The company have also announced that they are freezing prices on their single and return ticket prices.

More details from the company's website: www.stagecoachbus.com

Puffin stars on camera
Aug 2nd 2011

A puffin has become the leading actor on TV cameras at Troup Head  bird reserve after it made its burrow right in front of the live bird-watching camera. The colourful little seabird can be watched entering and leaving its burrow, which may have chicks inside.

The final RSPB bird watching evening of the summer at Troup Head takes place on Tuesday, August 9 from 6pm-8pm.

As well as puffins, visitors will be able to watch at close hand the only mainland gannet colony in Britain, with RSPB experts on hand. There are 3,000 pairs of the beautiful seabirds nest on the towering cliffs every summer.

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