I recently hopped across the channel to Boulogne, France, to visit the Nausicaa Centre, one of Europe’s largest aquariums. Nausicaa were celebrating Taste Week to highlight its ‘Mr Goodfish’ initiative, which aims to raise public awareness of living in harmony with the sea. With there being over 30,000 animals from 1,000 species there was plenty to see.
The enthralling displays of the life underwater made it feel like you’d been transported to another world. It’s like diving, without the need to get your feet wet. We started off at the Island Stories exhibition, which aims to highlight the environmental challenges that islands face and that they are particularly vulnerable to climate change.
The shark displays highlight the fragility of the rapidly declining shark populations, with 100 million sharks disappearing each year. There are 12 different species of shark in the Nausicaa tanks, including leopard sharks, nurse sharks, zebra sharks, sand tiger sharks and sandbar sharks. Some of the sharks are older than I am and have been at the centre since it opened in 1991.
We spent a fair amount of time in awe of this fascinating species that gives off flecks of multicoloured light through bioluminescence. I’d never ever seen anything like them in the flesh before.
The Tropical Lagoon exhibition features one of the largest cultivated reefs in the world. There are a spectrum of tropical fish and sharks milling between the colourful corals. From the raised pontoon you can get a detailed look at the formations from above.
The Tropical Forrest exhibition features a river environment under a canopy; there’s even alligators.
Next we went to the exhibition that I had most excited about, the African penguins.
I love penguins, they are my favourite animal. Seeing penguins in the wild (particularly emperor penguins, which are my absolute favourite) is at the very top of my bucket list. They are stunning creatures that endure so much to survive and romantically they stay with the same partner for life.
General admission : Adults (€18.80 / ~ £13.50) Concessions (~ € 12 / ~ £8.50) Over 60s (~ € 17.30 / ~ £12.50).