With more than 2,500 forms of marine life in 60 tanks, the CretAquarium is one of the island’s most popular family attractions. Since its opening in 2005, this beguiling introduction to Mediterranean marine lifeforms has thrilled both young and old. From large predatory sharks to the smallest plankton, the aquarium presents the magical world beneath the sea through a maze of exhibits.
The aquarium’s tanks, ranging in size from just over 100 liters to almost 1 million liters, are home to some of more than 200 species of the Mediterranean’s most fascinating and colorful tropical organisms. A tour of two hours takes groups and families through state-of-the-art audio-visual presentations and stunning interactive explorations. Kids get to play marine biologist and examine sea life under the microscope, and comprehensive ecosystem exhibits add a structured learning experience. With special programs – usually school groups – they even get to touch some of the animals and sponges.
The 5000 square meters CretAquarium houses the Institute of Marine Biology & Genetics and the Institute of Oceanography. Visitors can choose self-guided tours utilizing the aquariums audio guide system, or professional tours which add another learning dimension. It is also possible to book individually guided tours in Greek, English or French. Other languages can be accommodated with advanced booking.
A lesser-known highlight of the aquarium is the “behind the scenes” visit of the facility. For this tour, you will need to contact the CretAquarium ahead of time so guides can get ready to take your group to see sections like the nursery, where newborn fish and octopodes are raised. There’s also a “fish hotel” for new arrivals to stay until they’ve been acclimated, and a hospital where the injured are cared for.
The aquarium is part of the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR), which means the program at the CretAquarium popularizes and disseminates scientific knowledge about our marine world, and the seas around Greece. In all, four educational programs are presented at the aquarium focusing on Ocean Plankton; Diversity and Adaptability; Oceans in Constant Motion; and Evolution and Comparison of Marine Species.
Local schools bring primary and secondary school pupils to the aquarium frequently so that the kids get to know more about marine physics and biology in a hands-on environment. Visiting families with kids can do likewise taking the opportunity to study marine life under laboratory conditions, using stereoscopes and microscopes, and through checking the larger marine animals out in the larger tanks.
The CretAqarium is one of the most important marine life facilities in Europe, and from the front lobby doors of Creta Maris Beach Resort, it’s just a few minutes by taxi or car. You owe it to yourself and the kids to visit this fantastic Cretan attraction during your stay.