31 Aug 2007

New Caledonia opens new aquarium

3:43 pm on 31 August 2007

New Caledonia's new aquarium, The Aquarium of the Lagoons, opened to the public today - four years after the project began.

Mostly financed by the European Union, the aquarium has cost nearly 18 million US dollars - twice the projected sum.

Its construction was delayed several times because of technical problems.

The manager, Richard Farman, says the idea is to take the visitor inside all the aquatic environments, from the estuary to the deep ocean.

It features nearly 150 different species of fish, including several sharks and Leon, the Napoleon fish which was the mascot of the old aquarium.

There are also examples of the famous fluorescent corals of the Caledonian lagoon, which is considered one of the most beautiful in the world.

With the reef due to be listed as a World Heritage site by Unesco next year, the aquarium is seen as a symbol of the extraordinary marine biodiversity of the island.

It is also hoped that the aquarium will bring more tourists to New Caledonia.