What's special about us

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By taking a tour of the Aquarium, you are sure to experience New Caledonia's ecosystems as close to their natural form as can be.

The notoriety of the Aquarium owes much to its display of live coral colonies since it opened back in 1957. Dr Catala, our founder, observed that to be able to present live, healthy specimens "all you had to do" was to provide identical environment conditions. He based the whole set up of the aquarium on that concept: water from the lagoon and natural lighting.

Water from the lagoon
Clean seawater from the lagoon flows through the different aquariums making for conditions nearly identical to those in the wild. Water is constantly being pumped from Baie des Citrons (3 x 90m3/h), filtered, and taken through a 400 m3 settling tank located on the hill, about 20m higher than the building. From there, it is gravity fed to the various tanks.

Each tank is also equipped with its own filtration unit, mainly to deal with turbidity, and the system is designed to be able to operate in recirculation should pollution ever be detected in the intake.

Natural lighting
Corals live in symbiosis with microscopic algae which provide them with the bulk of their food. These algae, like all plants, need light to process the elements they live on (photosynthesis). With this in mind, Dr Catala had installed skylights over every display tank in the original aquarium so that his coral colonies might thrive.

In today’s Aquarium, you will see what is probably the oldest coral colony literally "born in captivity": a community of Echinopora, whose original polyp was probably introduced through the intake in the old aquarium in 1966. This colony was transferred to the new premises, where it continues to thrive.

However, the new tanks and basins are bigger and much deeper than the old ones, and natural light has a hard time reaching every corner. In order to provide optimum conditions for the corals, supplemental artificial lighting had to be added in places.