Prepare your visit

Location, timetable

Opening hours

The Aquarium is open from 10 am to 5 pm, Tuesday to Sunday (no admission at 4 pm)

Address

61 Promenade Roger Laroque. Anse Vata. POBox 8185 Nouméa 98807 New Caledonia

Contact

Tel : (687) 26 27 31
Fax :(687) 26 17 93

Address

61 Promenade Roger Laroque. Anse Vata. POBox 8185 Nouméa 98807 New Caledonia

Access visit
VIRTUAL

Rates

Rates applicable since January 1st, 2016.
There are two kinds of rates: standard rates, and special rates for evening events.

Standard rates

Single ticket Season ticket
Adults 1.500 F 6.750 F
Children (5 to 16 years old) 750 F 3.375 F
Students (with student card) and seniors (over 60) 1.125 F 5.050 F
Package (2 adultes + 3 children) 3.000 F 13.500 F
Children under 5 Free Free
Handicapped Free Free
Guided tour (reservation only, maximum 8 persons) 3.000 F

Evening events

Single ticket
Adults 1.000 F
Children (5 to 16 years old) 500 F
Students (with student card) and seniors (over 60) 750 F
Package (2 adultes + 3 children) 2.000 F
Children under 5 Free
Handicapped Free

Map of the Aquarium

Find the different Temporary exhibit area spaces and the animal species to be seen there

1

The gift shop

Take some souvenirs home

This attractive shop has a vast selection of interesting objects for children and adults alike, souvenirs, toys, educational games, all connected in some way with the Aquarium experience and the New Caledonian marine environment. The shop is open all year round, whenever the Aquarium is open to the public. Like the rest of the facilities, it is air-conditioned.

Existing species in this area

2

Fresh water

Cool off in the New Caledonian rivers and lakes!

The fresh water environment is the first stop on your journey through New Caledonia’s aquatic universe. Glide along a river, rest on the shore of a lake, and observe the incredible diversity of the creatures who live in the water. In one of the rivers of New Caledonia’s deep South, you can see yellow-tail carps and spotted eels, quickly slipping by. See the unusual and graceful fresh water shrimps who live in our creeks and at the foot of waterfalls.

Along the river

Several species of carp inhabit this basin, which simulates a Grande Terre river environment, and hosts its denizens.

Carps, whether their tail is yellow, red or black, prefer fairly calm waters.

You may also observe a spotted eel, the most common species of eel in New Caledonia.

The mountain streams

This display is part land (rain forest environment) and part stream water. There, you will see freshwater shrimp, gobys and black mullets.
The giant freshwater shrimp (scientific name Macrobrachium) is more active by night. During the day, it tends to seek shelter in the shade of the vegetation.

These river shrimps can be seen clustering in great numbers on rock walls by waterfalls. They use their elongated claws to catch organic particles in the water.

In this basin, you will also see a species of fish: the red-tail goby (Syciopterus lagocephalus). They have a ventral sucker which they use to attach themselves to large flat pebbles or rocks, and then feed by scraping the algal growth.

The southern rivers

The characteristic blackish rock formations of the deep south give the streams and small lakes an unusual appearance. The area is rich in “dolines”, nearly circular depressions in the land formed by the subsidence of the surface, often filled with water when fed by the underground water-table.

In this basin, you may see members of the glassfish family; they also live in rivers and mangroves. Glassfish live in schools and migrate to fresh water.

DID YOU KNOW?

Over 100 species

There are 125 species of fish in the lakes and rivers of New Caledonia, most of them endemic.

This is not a snake

Eels are not snakes, although they look like one: they are fish. They take 10 to 20 years to reach sexual maturity, at which time they migrate to sea. They reproduce in the ocean.

3320 km long

Added together, the rivers and creeks of New Caledonia would span 3320 km. The longest river is the Diahot, in the northern district, where the village of Ouegoa holds a celebration once a year in its honour.

Existing species in this area

3

Auditorium

Let yourself dream…

At the end of your visit, take a comfortable seat in our projection room, and see some excellent documentaries prepared by the Aquarium staff. You will be invited to test your knowledge of the marine ecosystems of New Caledonia. Once the projection screen is rolled up, the Auditorium affords a great view of the main tank.

Enjoy a free movie at the end of your visit. This will enable you to learn more about the species you have just seen live. The film “Corail Nouvelle Calédonie” will help you discover the living habits and mode of reproduction of coral colonies, these unusual animals which, for a long time, were thought to be either plants or minerals. Follow the sea turtles as they dive, and discover some species which are specific to New Caledonia. Learn to appreciate these creatures, and to respect them. The film “Mangrove” will take you on a journey through a semi-aquatic forest environment, and present the creatures who live there.

The Auditorium, and a Conference Room, may be hired (Click on the tab “Organise your Event”) for special functions, seminars, lectures, etc.

Existing species in this area

4

The deap sea

20,000 leagues under the sea

Take the time to observe the strange ballet of the chambered nautilus, as they slowly cruise up and down their glass cylinder. This animal has not evolved for over 60 million years: you are looking at a living fossil!

A first for our Aquarium

The Aquarium of Noumea was the first in the world to have a permanent display of live nautilus. These ancient molluscs are caught in traps at depths between 150m and 300m. We show them in what is the closest possible approximation of their natural environment, except for pressure conditions: very faint bluish light, water temperature kept at 18° to 20°.

They float?

The shell of the adult nautilus is made up of about 30 successive chambers, filled with a gas, which gives the animal slightly negative buoyancy. The animal inhabits the outermost chamber only. The nautilus swims by expelling water through a jet located under its mouth, which is surrounded by a ring of tentacles and fitted with a pair of powerful mandibles.

Reproduction in captivity

On June 20th, 2000, the first baby nautilus ever bred in captivity was born in the Aquarium. Nautilus are sexed, and they couple to reproduce. Coupling may last as long as 24 hours! Following fertilisation, the female lays one to six white eggs, about 3cm high. Eggs take 11 months to hatch at a temperature of 22° to 24°. When ready to hatch, the baby nautilus, a miniature replica of its parents, emerges from the egg, a process which may take several hours to several days (36h to 43 days, according to observations).

Existing species in this area

5

The mangrove

Take a stroll between land and sea

The mangrove, with its distinctive trees, stretches along the foreshore and is the transition between the land and the sea. A multitude of animal species live among the roots of the mangrove trees. It is the food larder and nursery for about 260 species of fish. You may laugh at two odd looking creatures: the fiddler crab and the mudskipper, but they are in fact perfectly adapted to their environment.

The mangrove crab

In New Caledonia, the mangrove crab is found mainly along the northern and western coasts. It feeds on molluscs and crustaceans, which it can crack with its with powerful claws. The hindmost pair of legs is flattened and used as swimming fins. Adult specimens spend most of their life among the roots of the mangrove trees or on the flats between mangrove and lagoon. They usually shelter in holes they dig in the mud.

The tides of the mangrove display

The mangrove basin has the unusual feature of being provided with a system for simulating tides, as the mangroves trees are highly dependant on the tidal cycle for their existence: their roots must be exposed to air part of the time, otherwise the trees would “choke” for lack of oxygen. Among the stilt roots of the mangrove trees, you may see some moonfish swimming gracefully

In New Caledonia, the mangrove crab is found mainly along the northern and western coasts. It feeds on molluscs and crustaceans, which it can crack with its with powerful claws. The hindmost pair of legs is flattened and used as swimming fins. Adult specimens spend most of their life among the roots of the mangrove trees or on the flats between mangrove and lagoon. They usually shelter in holes they dig in the mud.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Heart of Voh

In New Caledonia, mangroves cover 250 km2 not counting mud flats. The natural formation called “the Heart of Voh” has made it famous world-wide.

A natural waste-treatment plant

Mangroves play an important ecological function. They are very effective in cleaning up the water, by filtering out the sediments. They are also the starting point of many food-chains.

Water in cheek-pouches

Mudskippers spend much of their time out of the water at low tide. Their fins have evolved into a shape that allows then to move on land by skipping. To keep their gills moist, they store water in their cheek-pouches. Like frogs, they are also able to breathe through the skin. Their eyes have a double structure, enabling them to see in air as well as in water.

Existing species in this area

6

Exhibition hall

To discover more!

In this hall, the Aquarium invites you to extend your knowledge of a variety of subjects on marine species and habitats, in an educational and fun way. The exhibitions are usually changed two or three times a year.

Two or three times a year, the Aquarium sets up a special exhibition. In order to be sure not to miss any, look up the “Calendar” and “Current News” pages of the site.

Existing species in this area

7

The open sea

Welcome to the deep blue!

You were hoping to see some sharks? Here they are! Observe the grey shark cruising its patch; see how the leopard shark got its name. Yet, the other residents don’t seem particularly alarmed and dance their multicoloured ballet unperturbed. One could spend hours, mesmerised by the oversize window of the main tank.

DID YOU KNOW?

Both male and female

The humphead wrasse (also called Maori wrasse) is hermaphrodite. The process by which they change sex is not well understood yet, but scientists know that they are all born female, and some become male with age. When this takes place, their colour changes and the characteristic hump on the front of their head becomes more pronounced.

He can smell it

The sharks’ sense of smell is one of the most sensitive of the animal kingdom. A shark can smell the presence of prey from several kilometres away. The water that enters its nostrils circulates inside a “smelling pouch”, and the animal can detect a few drops of blood diluted in millions of litres of water.

Cut!

The surgeonfish get their name from the razor-sharp spur which adorns the base of their tail. When threatened, they deploy these spurs to try to wound the aggressor.

Existing species in this area

8

Coastal waters

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 curvet in a never ending and mysterious ballet. There, you will also see the world’s oldest coral colony “born” in an aquarium (1966).

The fringing reef

You journey takes you now to the fringing reef. Welcome to the kingdom of the coral – did you know that corals are actually colonies of 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…

Cowfish in the seagrass beds

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

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

Récif frangeant

Votre voyage vous amène maintenant au niveau du récif frangeant. Bienvenus au royaume des coraux qui sont bel et bien des animaux, « Dans ce monde corallien tout est vie et mouvement, lumière et couleur. Les coraux, représentés par un nombre considérable d’espèces différentes affectent les formes les plus variées. Les une évoquent le végétal… buissons aux tiges colorées de bleu, de mauve, de jaune, de vert. (…)

D’autres encore font apparaître de troublantes analogies avec de belles concrétions calcaires de cavernes souterraines… lames festonnées, tuyaux d’orgue, drapées, volutes, urnes, stalagmites, formes déliées ou massives. », René Catala, fondateur de l’aquarium.

DID YOU KNOW?

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, spinefoot (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 maids?

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

Sea-cucumbers

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”.

Black spotted garden eels

Black spotted garden eel are long slender fish who live below 15m depth, in holes burrowed in the sand. They live in large groups which can numer over 100 individuals. Very shy, they hide in their holes at the slightest hint of a danger. At mating season, each male and each female twine their bodies and liberate sperm and eggs in the water. The resulting newborn remain close to their parent’s colony. They feed, without leaving their burrow, on zooplankton carried by the current.

Existing species in this area

9

The lagoons

The lagoons
Fantastic biodiversity/h2>
Stately surgeonfish, handsome emperors, all these denizens 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 an 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 by scientists, and mother-in-law cushion by the facetious, is another of the denizens 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).

DID YOU KNOW?

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

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.

Hawkeye

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.

Existing species in this area

10

Fluorescent corals and flashlight fish

Fluorescent corals and flashlight-fish
Dark mystery

A magic display of mysterious faint lights shimmers in the darkened basin: here you will discover the beauty of fluorescent corals, which glow with a whole palette of colours when exposed to black light. Noumea’s Aquarium des Lagons has the greatest collection of these corals in the world. The ballet of the small flashlight-fish which swim among them will only add to your delight.

DID YOU KNOW?

Fluorescent !

The phenomenon of fluorescence among certain species of coral was discovered by Dr Catala and his wife, founders of the Aquarium, in 1958.
The corals you see here were collected between the surface and depths of 35m, both inside and outside the lagoon. In the display, they are subjected to black-light to bring out the fluorescence, caused by certain pigments present within the tissues of the living coral, which react with ultraviolet light.

Light-emitting organs

The blue-green lights you will observe in the far basin are produced by “flashlight-fish”. These fish have developed, under each eye, a specialised organ capable of emitting this faint light, actually produced by symbiotic bacteria through a light-generating chemical reaction. This ability to shine is primarily used by the fish to attract prey, but also to fool pursuing predators by ‘turning the light off’ and then making a quick turn.

Existing species in this area

1

The turtle pond

The turtle pond was first open in August 2014. It features the three species most common in New Caledonia: the Green Turtle, the Loggerhead Turtle and the Hawksbill Turtle.

The pond is 12m across and 2m deep and is set in its own landscaped park. It holds 200. 000 liters of water and is the largest display in the Aquarium. There, you will be able to observe the animals in an environment that suits their needs. It even features a strech of sand beach where the turtle may lay their eggs.

An amphibian life

Four species of sea turtles can be found in New Caledonian waters. Three are quite common: the Green Turtle, the Loggerhead Turtle and the Hawksbill Turtle. The fourth, the Leatherback Turtle, is seen more seldom, as it prefers to live offshore and rarely visits the lagoon.

The lagoons, coral reefs and nearby deep waters are favouried feeding sites for these species. New Caledonia is also a reproduction site for the Green Turtle and the Loggerhead Turtle.

The Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas)

Its name comes from the colour of its fat, It has a finely serrated beak. Adults usually have one claw on each flipper. Average length: 1.1m, average weight: 140kg.

Juveniles live in open waters. Adults browse the seagrass flats and algae beds of the lagoon. Juveniles are carnivorous (custaceans, mollusks, small invertebrates), while adults are herbivorous (algae and seagrasses).

Many come to New Caledonia to lay their eggs, A favourite laying site is D’Entrecasteaux Reef, a reef complex to the NW of New Caledonia’s main island, the second most important laying site for this species.

The Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta)

The head of the Loggerhead turtle is particularly large, thus its name. Adults have two claws on each flipper. Average length: 1m, average weight: 150kg.

Juveniles live in open waters. Adults cruise the coral reefs and those lagoon bays with a hard bottom (rich in invertebrates). They are a carnivorous species and feeds on cnidaria, mollusks and invertebrates.

Many come to New Caledonia to lay their eggs, A favourite laying site is the Roche Percée beach at Bourail (Main Island), the second most frequented site in the South Pacific after Australia.

The Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)

The Hawksbill Turtle’s scales are superimposed on the shell like a mosaic (imbricated). Its beak is long, narrow and hooked. Adults have two claws on each flipper. Average length: 0.9m, average weight: 70kg.

Juveniles live in open waters. Adults cruise the coral reefs and seagrass beds. They are a carnivorous species and feed on invertebrates (soft corals, sponges) and algae. Its flesh is often toxic.

This species does not lay eggs in New Caledonia, and is seen more seldon in New Caledonian waters than the other two.

DID YOU KNOW?

Turtles are migratory animals, and their life cycle is fairly complex. Females lay their eggs on the beach where they were born. After a few months incubation, the eggs hatch and the young turtles scramble to the waters of the lagoon and swim out to sea.

They begin a long period of migration (more than 10 years), far from New Caledonia, to their favourite feeding grounds such as the coasts of Australia and New Guinea. After some 15 years spent on the feeding grounds, they reach maturity and are ready to reproduce. They then undertake their first long journey back to New Caledonia where they were born.

They mate near the beach where they intend to lay their eggs. Then the females crawl up the beach, dig a hole in the sand, and lay their eggs. After several layings, they return to their feeding grounds – which can be thousands of kilometers away from that beach.

Existing species in this area

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