The coastal zone

Discover New Caledonia's shallows !

Admire the life-forms that teem around the fringing reefs. Black and white banded or flashy blue damselfish abound and are in perpetual motion. Cuttlefish cruise by majestically. The surprising cowfish point their horns at the visitors. The wrasses curve in a never ending and mysterious ballet. There, you will also see the world's oldest coral colony "born" in an aquarium (1966).

The reef flats
In this open basin you will see some of the sea's most wonderful creatures at hands reach. You will notice the many-coloured starfish, along with their relatives the brittle-stars, similar in shape, but with a rounded hub from which grow 5 long thin arms. In their company, you will spot sea-urchins and hermit crabs.

You will also observe some giant clams, who live in symbiosis with microscopic algae, the zooxantellae, which give their mantle its vibrant colours. A zebra shark will be cruising, and you will get a close up view of a loggerhead turtle who was moved here from her usual basin for the duration of an exhibition.

Cowfish in the seagrass beds
Seagrass beds are found on soft silty bottoms near shore, in bays and seaward from mangroves.

In this sea grass bed, you will encounter a most peculiar creature: the long-horn cowfish.

The fringing reef
You journey takes you now to the fringing reef. Welcome to the kingdom of the coral – which are indeed animals ”In the coral world, life and motion are all around, in a dazzling display of colour. The corals themselves represent a multitude of distinct species, very different in appearance: some may look like colourful bushes, mauve, yellow, green.

Others look surprisingly like some of the limestone formations found in underground caves: stone draperies, organ pipes, stalagmites...” René Catala, founder of the aquarium.

Seagrass beds

Underwater plants aren't all algae. In the seagrass beds you will find plants that belong to the family of flowering plants, the phanerogams, which shelter many species of nudibranch (sea-slugs), gobies, some wrasses, emperors, rabbit fish (locally considered a delicacy), and others.
This is also where you might run across a dugong (a marine mammal also called seacow), and some green turtles.

Pretty damsels

These small, dainty, pretty, colourful fish have been named "damsel-fish", a name that suits them perfectly.


These sausage-shaped organisms are considered a prized food in several Asian countries. In New Caledonia, they were fished by Japanese immigrants in the early years of the 20th century, dried and exported. As a food, they are sometimes known under the Malay name of "trepang"..