Children on the northeast Avalon now have a chance to get up close and personal with creatures of the sea.

A kelp-cutting ceremony marked the official opening of the Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium on Saturday.

It has taken the fisherman's co-operative in Petty Harbour less than a year to create interactive tanks, giving children and adults hands-on exposure to marine life.

Melanie Knight is the founder and director of the aquarium.

"There's so much life down there and each animal has its own story to tell," Knight said.

"And if we can help tell that story for the oceans, then I think we'll all be better off."  

Children who attended Saturday's opening were given the opportunity to pet star fish, see a codfish up close – and learn about the sea cucumber.

Evan Raymond, 10, was one of the first and youngest volunteers to help with Petty Harbour's newest attraction.

Raymond said he has learned a lot from the experience and wants others to kids to do the same.

"I'm hoping new kids come and learn that you shouldn't pollute the water because there's lots of different kinds of animals that you need," Raymond said.

The next generation

Tom Best, president of the Petty Harbour Fisherman's Co-Op, said he made an interesting discovery when he went out on the water to catch fish for the tank.

Best said cod are in much earlier this year — the earliest he's seen in 25 years.

He said part of the new aquarium's appeal is the codfish.

"There's a whole generation of kids in this community who know nothing of what the cod fishery was like — and even some older people — because it's been 30 years since there's really any significant activity on the water and on the wharfs here with cod."