Nausicaä Centre National de la Mer

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Nausicaā Centre National de la Mer
Moon Jellyfish.JPG
A group of moon jellyfish. When you enter the main aquarium, you see these first.
Date opened 18 May 1991
Location Boulogne-sur-Mer, France
Coordinates 50°43′50″N 1°35′37″E / 50.73056°N 1.59361°E / 50.73056; 1.59361Coordinates: 50°43′50″N 1°35′37″E / 50.73056°N 1.59361°E / 50.73056; 1.59361
No. of animals 34,000[1]
Total volume of tanks 4,500,000 litres (990,000 imp gal; 1,200,000 US gal)
Memberships EAZA[2]

Nausicaā Centre National de la Mer is a public aquarium located in Boulogne-sur-Mer in France. It is one of the largest public aquariums of Europe.

Nausicaa is described as a center of scientific and technical discovery of the marine environment, focusing primarily on the relationship between man and the sea.


The idea for the aquarium started when Guy Lengagne, then mayor of Boulogne-sur-Mer, wanted to repurpose an old casino. In 1982, oceanographers Philippe Vallette, Stéphane Henard, and Christophe Liacopoulos were tasked with a preliminary study, and eventually with implementing the project.[3]

In 1984 a non-profit association was created for the aquarium, and Jacques Rougerie was selected as architect for the facility. In 1986 France selected the project as one of its major urban development projects and it was renamed the National Sea Centre. The European Union contributed half of the FF140 million required to finance the project, and bids to build the project were solicited.[3]

Construction started in 1987 and was finished by early 1991 when the National Sea Centre Development Company was created. The center was renamed again to Nausicaa, and was opened on 18 May 1991. The first jellyfish arrived at the aquarium in 1994, and the first temporary exhibit, “The Sea and the Child,” was opened in 1995.[3]

A major expansion of the facility in 1998 doubled the exhibit area to 4,500 square metres (48,000 sq ft) in order to add about 10,000 animals, including California sea lions, and a Tropical Lagoon Village with sharks and coral reefs.[3]

In 1999, Nausicaa was designated a Centre of Excellence by the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission for its outreach programs. In 2002 it obtained the "Tourism & Disability" label, and the World Ocean Network was created.[3]

2003 saw the arrival of the first caimans in the Submerged Tropical Forest. This space was incorporated into the “World House” in early 2005, which aims to make people think about their consumer habits. In 2006 another expansion added space for a permanent exhibit called “Steer South.” The aquarium welcomed its first African penguins, though its first penguin birth was not until 2010.[3]

In 2007, Nausicaa welcomed its ten millionth visitor. In 2008, it opened a new interactive multimedia exhibit called “Planet Nausicaa,” as well as exhibitions that focus on Madagascar and the Mozambique canal.[3]


California sea lion.

The exhibit area is currently about 5,000 square metres (54,000 sq ft), and includes the following main exhibits:[4]

  • Shark Aquarium
  • Tropical Lagoon
  • Sea Lion Reserve
  • Tactile Pool
  • World Ocean
  • Submerged Forest
  • Penguin Beach

Animal medicine[edit]

In October 2008, Nausicaa worked with a veterinary surgeon who specialises in sharks for the first successful surgery on a grey nurse shark. On 14 November 2008, Nausicaa was awarded first prize for medical training in the care of sea lions at the IMATA (International Marine Animal Trainers Association) annual conference, which took place in Cancun, Mexico.[3]


The aquarium is part of the European “Mr Goodfish” campaign (launched in France in 2010) in association with the Acquario di Genova in Italy and the Aquarium Finisterrae in Spain, under the aegis of the World Ocean Network. This project tries to encourage people to take an active part in preserving marine resources.[3]

Several books have been published by the aquarium, including “Secrets des abysses” by Christine Causse and Philippe Vallette published by Fleurus, and “Madagascar, L’ile Océan” by Christine Causse and Philippe Vallette, photographs by Alexis Rosenfeld, published by Autrement.[3]


  1. ^ "Come to Nausicaa for a complete sea experience". Nausicaä Centre National de la Mer. Retrieved 8 January 2010. 
  2. ^ "EAZA Member Zoos & Aquariums". EAZA. Retrieved 1 September 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "A Few Dates". Nausicaä Centre National de la Mer. Retrieved 8 January 2010. 
  4. ^ "Aquariums & expositions". Nausicaä Centre National de la Mer. Retrieved 8 January 2010. 

External links[edit]