The closure and restocking of a large public aquarium has led to a unique study into the calming effects of fish-gazing.
The study conducted by experts from the Ocean Conservation Trust (OCT), Plymouth University and the University of Exeter, observed visitor reactions as a 550-litre tank was restored in phases – including with just water, then plants and then fish stocks.
The researchers were able to identify reductions in blood pressure and heart rate in those who gazed at the fish at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth.
In response to the findings published in the journal Environment and Behaviour, the National Marine Aquarium has been holding weekly relaxation sessions during the coronavirus lockdown by offering live-streaming of its tanks on social media, reported the I newspaper.
The OCT, which runs the aquarium, said the videos had already reached more than a million people.
Nicola Bridge, of the OCT, said: “Fish tanks and displays are often associated with attempts at
calming patients in doctors’
surgeries and dental waiting rooms. Our study shows there is robust evidence that ‘doses’ of exposure to underwater settings could actually have a positive impact on people’s wellbeing.”