Dive into the marine world of the Mediterranean!
CretAquarium is one of the largest aquariums in Europe and the first large aquarium in Greece. It was founded in 2005 and it is located in the former American military base in Gournes, Heraklion. With 60 tanks, 100 observation points and 2.500 Mediterranean and tropical organisms, the tour deep into the fascinating Mediterranean marine world will take you about 2 hours. You will see fish, corals, sea organisms (known and unknown) and big predatory sharks that will take your breath away! You will also love the teeny tiny hippocampus and you will be impressed by the phantasmagorical dance of the medusas. Naturally, the famous sea turtle “caretta-caretta” could not be missed. However, they are not permanent residents of the aquarium. Most of them are hosted in the tanks for a short period of time for medical care and when they are fully healed they are released in their natural habitat (the aquarium has already released three of them).
The variety of marine life is highlighted with a background of Cretan underwater landscapes, such as the rocks of Matala (southern Crete) and the seabed of Vai (eastern Crete). Apart from the tanks, accompanied with information tables on the species in exhibition, there are also different touch screens and additional educational material.
If your interest for the marine world goes deeper than the surface, you have the ability to visit the “backstage” of the aquarium at an extra charge of 5 euros per person
Finally, as part of the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, the largest marine research centre and showcasing venue of the Mediterranean marine world in the Mediterranean, the aquarium is an “living organism” itself. Its exhibition is constantly expanding with new species and corals while at the same time the scientific personnel are conducting valuable research on marine biology and oceanography.
Furthermore, if your interest for the marine world goes deeper than the surface, you have the ability to visit the “backstage” of the aquarium. Twice a day at specific hours you can pay an extra charge of 5 euros per person and for groups of at least 10 persons to get a tour inside the “auxiliary” spaces of the aquarium, where most of the tanks , or “quarantines” as they are called, used for the medical care, feeding and reproduction of the species are located. In these tours you will learn how the tanks function, how the water is filtered, about preservation procedures, ect.
After observing all this sea through the looking glass you might develop the urge to actually dive in it. No worries, as right in front of the Aquarium there is a long sandy beach, perfect for swimming.