Musee de 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): Î 11
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.
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 I’s
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.
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.
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 ain’t