The lagoons

The lagoons
Fantastic biodiversity !

Stately surgeonfish, handsome emperors, all these residents of the lagoon display wonderful colours against a background of enchanting coral gardens. Your undersea journey becomes a serene adventure of discovery and meditation.

Magic lagoon
Protected from the big ocean swells, fragile stems of stag coral, sea fans and sea whips thrive and provide shelter and supper to a whole range of colourful species: parrot fish, wrasses, emperors, surgeon fish, damsel fish, and many others.

Warning! Danger!
Here are some creatures you will be happy to discover from behind plate glass. Begin with the very decorative lionfish, whose fins look like long feathers: he carries extremely potent venom, which will cause severe pain, headaches, fever, nausea, and occasionally breathing difficulties. The most dreaded member of the family is the notorious stonefish: as its name implies, it looks just like a rock and sits motionless on the bottom, among corals and pebbles, occasionally on sandy bottoms where it buries itself with only a few of its deadly dorsal spines showing.

The crown-of-thorns starfish
This prickly member of the starfish family, called Acanthaster planci by scientists, and mother-in-law cushion by the facetious, is another of the resident of the coral habitats. It feeds on coral polyps, and can devastate large areas of the reef when present in large numbers.

The "striped jersey"
Fourteen species of marine snakes have been identified in New Caledonia. The best known is undoubtedly the Laticauda laticaudata, popularly known as "striped jersey". The Aquarium usually keeps some specimens in its displays, but they must be released within three weeks and replaced, as they will not feed in captivity (they live mostly on small moray eels and other eel-like fish).

Look out for the striped jersey!

The "striped jersey" is the only one, among the dozen or more marine snakes of New Caledonia, to be amphibious. It makes its nest ashore, and hunts in the sea for the young moray eels which are his favourite food. It has a pair of fangs at the front of its mouth; it can sting and inject its venom. Fortunately, it is rather shy and not aggressive.


Camouflage is a very interesting strategy used by fish either to catch their prey or to evade predators. Certain fish are able to assume the appearance of other species or of features of their environment. Some will assume the shape of something of no interest to predators, such as a bit of floating algae, while others take on the appearance of species known to the predators to be toxic or particularly foul tasting. Others pretend to belong to species that have an understanding with predators, such as the cleaner wrasses.


The peacock mantis shrimp has one of the most acute visions of the animal world. Its eyes have a triple-banded cornea, which enables it to see in 3 dimensions. Its retina has 16 different types of cells, including some sensitive to ultra-violet light, and others specialised in interpreting polarised light.