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Musee de Oceanographique Monaco

 

Musee Oceanographique

Musee Oceanographique

Avenue Saint-Martin, MC 98000 Monaco

Phone (+377) 93 15 36 00 Fax (+377) 92 16 77 93

Hours are listed as:

Oct-Mar: 10 a.m.- 6 p.m.

April-Jun: 09 a.m.- 7 p.m.

July-Aug: 09 a.m.- 8 p.m.

Sept: 09 a.m.- 7 p.m.

(note: I was there in April and they opened at 9:30 a.m.)

Price per Adult (April 2003): 11

Description:

Situated in the Principality of Monaco, which lies between the French and Italian Riviera on the Mediterranean, is the Museum of Oceanography and Aquarium of Monaco. This is easily one of the most spectacular public aquaria displays in the world. Founded in 1899 (inaugurated in 1910) by Prince Albert I of Monaco (of the do you have Prince Albert in a can? fame) the museum was designed with an association of art and science for the time and is ordained throughout with beautiful works of art that depict marine creatures and symbolical figures of the marine world.

Musee Oceanographique

submarine

Constructed of white limestone and marble the museum itself appears to have erupted out of the surrounding cliffs and almost appears to be a natural part of the rocky Mediterranean coastline, like much of Monaco. The upper floors (ground floor and 1st floor) are dedicated to the museum, lecture hall, gift shop and exhibit hall. The museum on the 1st floor has hundreds of preserved specimens, reassembled skeletons of a variety of cetaceans including a baleen whale. There are also artifacts from Prince Albert Is expeditions to the poles including a mounted polar bear, and a display of mounted penguins and puffins. A mock up of the original laboratories used by Prince Albert I is displayed here as well as some of the laboratory equipment and some of the earliest manned submarine vehicles.

The Aquarium itself occupies the lower levels and has a primary focus on tropical and temperate marine species, but also houses some freshwater species. The incredible centerpiece to the aquarium display is called the shark lagoon and was opened in December of 2000. This display is 9.1 meters in length, 6 meters deep and contains 450 m3 of water (450,000 liters or approximately 122,000 gallons). The display has four viewing areas and is actually composed of 2 separate aquariums (separate with respect to livestock). The smaller of the two aquariums represents the reef lagoon, and contains a spectacular display of many smaller species of fish, and invertebrates. A clear viewing pane is in between this smaller reef tank and the larger (~2-3x larger) open ocean aquarium, which contains large sharks, rays, groupers, eels, jacks, a sea turtle and other large fish. There are four viewing areas to this display, the upper reef (a stunning welcome to the aquarium exhibit), the open ocean main view, the open ocean sheltered view and the lower reef view. Displayed to the right is the open ocean main view, with the reef display in the background.

reef lagoon

Achilles tang

Upon first descending the stairs to the main aquarium level there is another very stunning display containing a school of Bangaii Cardinal fish, with several other species including an Achilles tang (pictured left) and a large Emperor Angel. This display is striking and unusual in that there is a blue acrylic translucent back cut into the back of the aquarium and backlit to give the illusion of open ocean extending beyond the actual back of the aquarium, creating an absolutely beautiful display. All of the aquariums in the Monaco aquarium display lush coral growth and beautiful specimens from throughout the world. In short this is a MUST visit if you ever have the opportunity, and the rest of Monaco aint bad neither.


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