History and museums, Natural sights
Aquarium Finisterrae (Aquarium of the end of the World) is an aquarium located in A Coruña, Galicia, Spain. It is an interactive centre of the sciences of marine biology, oceanography and the sea in general. It tries to promote learning about the ocean and to teach people to be more caring toward marine life.
Created by the City of A Coruña, it was inaugurated June 5, 1999. It is directed, like the other museums in A Coruña by Ramón Núñez Centella, and its objective is to educate people about the sea, paying special attention to the ecosystems of the Galician coast. Its technical director is Francisco Franco del Amo.
It is located on the coast of A Coruña, in the Maritime Pass, between the Casa del Hombre and the Tower of Hercules. Its exterior pools are connected to the Atlantic Ocean and are designed to show the tides.
Besides its pools and aquariums, it has elements of a museum and allows experiences like touching star fish and turbots and learning where king prawn live.
The largest of the aquariums is the Atlantic Ocean exposition room. Each of the modules has a question as its title which was selected by the readers of the newspaper La Voz de Galicia before the aquarium's inauguration.
Between the interactive modules, there is the Charca de las caricias (Stroking pool), where visitors can touch some of the marine life. There are also modules dedicated to nautical knots, fish smells, parrot songs and the amount of water that can be soaked up by a sponge.
There are various modules that are not interactive, like the tank of jellyfish, the small exposition of marine fossils, and the aquarium of sea horses. The most important is the circular tank at the entrance of the room, dedicated to the presentation of a particular animal. The animals presented change every so often.
The five aquariums of the greatest volume are found separated from the rest of the room by steps. Each one of them represents a different environment of the Galician coast, from the cliffs to the continental shelf. In these, among other things are: morays, congers, lophii, groupers, Scorpaenae, and fish of San Pedro.
The Sala Humboldt is dedicated to temporary expositions that change around every two years. The first were dedicated to Caribbean fish, some of which remain in an aquarium next to la Cantina.
In July 2002 an exposition of sea horses was inaugurated. This exposition changed to the Cephalopods in 2004. As of 2006, the room is dedicated the Fabricantes de Perlas (Producers of Pearls).
Each exhibit contains an adjective describing a different type of pearl: Natural, round, smooth, valuable, cultivated, symbolic, exotic, imitation, mythological, famous, elegant, and dangerous.
Next to the great collection of pearls, jewels and shells, the exhibition includes nine aquariums, each containing some of the principal producers of pearls, from oysters to nautilus, all surrounded by the most common fauna of the producers natural environment like clownfish, sea anemones, and sea cucumbers. In one of the aquariums, the Galician river ecosystem is reproduced with endemic pearl-producing clams.
Some of the interactive modules allow one to touch mother-of-pearl and other materials and to use a lens to observe the structure of the pearl while other exhibits examine the luxurious history of pearls. There is a reproduction of the Pearl of Lao Tzu, the largest pearl known to exist, and a collection of portraits portraying famous people like Queen Elizabeth I, Coco Chanel, Marilyn Monroe, Rodolfo Valentino and Audrey Hepburn donning pearls.
Through 48 windows in a room decorated like Captain Nemo's study in the Nautilus, Sala Nautilus is an observation room immersed in a 4,400,000-litre (970,000 imp gal; 1,200,000 US gal) pool containing 700 fish of 34 different species: sand sharks, amberfish, amberjacks, yellowtails, groupers, ocean sunfish; there are also different kinds of sharks like school sharks, angel sharks, spiny dogfish, hound sharks, nursehounds and catsharks as well as frequenters of the Galician coast like sea bass, red gurnards, immense turbots, skates and filefish. One of the major attractions introduced on May 24, 2006 is Gastón, a 3 m (9.8 ft), 100 kg (220 lb) male sand shark (Carcharias taurus) from the Océanopolis aquarium in Brest, France. With him lives a female sand shark named Hermosa.
The inside of the Nautilus room pays homage to the book from which it originated, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. The room is packed with posters showing various copies of the book and movie posters of several film adaptations and in different languages.
The room is also made to be a replica of the study as described in the book. A collection of objects—furniture, plates, catalogs, scientific apparatuses, paintings, engravings, sea shells, animal and mineral samples, nautical apparatuses and objects, navigational charts, and personal objects—all date to the second half of the nineteenth century and are related to the character of Jules Verne's novel.
The room also has leather-covered Chester armchairs, old maps, and period mirrors that reflect distorted images. The atmosphere is completed with a 20-minute symphony, containing several passages of organ music, specially composed by Luis Delgado for this room.
In the Terraza exterior one is exposed to art about fishing, the cabin of the fishing vessel María del Carmen, and the anchor of the oil tanker Mar Egeo that ran aground on December 3, 1992 spilling oil.
From here one can access the Paraíso Marino which receives water directly from the sea and inhabited by three male seals: Altair, Gregor and Hansi. If you look to the left of the aquarium building you can see a Jardín Botánico that contains many of the species present on the Galician coast.
The Piscinarium contains six female seals: Bine, Deneb, Lara, Paula, Petra and Vega.
Finally, the Octopus' Garden contains a place to observe the behavior of octopuses.