Just outside of the port area of Le Croisic is the Ocearium du Croisic, the local aquarium, and we had decided to visit it on the morning of our free day while over in Le Croisic with the Hertfordshire Chamber Ensemble. You can read all about our stay here, and this blog is intended to be a guide to the Ocearium.
We rode to the Ocearium by way of the station and the port, and it is very well signposted. It is off the coast road and easy to find anyway. There was amble parking space for both cars and bicycles, and from there it was just a short walk up the steps to the entrance and the front desk. The receptionist was very friendly and spoke excellent English, even when I tried to use my French, and we were soon inside and heading to the Nursery, where we found the fish farming display, showing the different stages of development of a number of sea creatures, and this section also houses an eight-tentacled octopus.
From there we went out of the main building to a pavilion which holds the Australian Sharks.
This was an excellent display, possibly the best of its kind I have seen, and we stayed here transfixed for some time. As you walk in you can look down into the pool from above, and then move down and round to see if from the sides. Sharks, winged rays, groupers and a sea turtle swim here in 1 million litres of sea water.
The tank is 18 metres long, 14 metres wide and 4 metres high, and as I have said, you can see into it from three sides and from above. We came back out of that pavilion and walked through the outdoor Penguins enclosure to get to the next part. These are black footed penguins and their enclosure is made of natural rocks. While being natives of South Africa, appropriately for me these penguins were born and bred in captivity in the United Kingdom and France.
I love penguins (though I could not eat a whole one for breakfast), and while this was not the most exciting habitat I have seen for them – I would say I prefer what they have at Whipsnade Zoo or the Cotswold Wildlife Park, for example – they all appeared to be very happy, which is what counts. The route now goes inside again to another building where we find Vancouver Island, which presents some of the amazing sea-life of the North Pacific Ocean, together with items of the culture of the Native Americans, including masks and totems. There is also a play area for children before we enter The Lagoon and find Nemo. The path then leads outside again, so that you do not have to come back against the flow of people coming in, and takes you back to the main building.
Back inside we follow an anti-clockwise route around the main building, walking past various tanks housed in areas with different themes. We began with L’Ile d’Yeu (which is the Atlantic Ocean in the English guide). Nautilus is next and we can see a horseshoe crab. Then we get to the Jellyfish Ballet, which name speaks for itself, and which is always fun to watch.
From there we went on to Belle Ile, which includes yellow corals of the Atlantic Ocean fished off the coast of Le Croisic, and which have gradually adapted to their new environment here in the Ocearium. Then we went through the Ocean Tunnel, another exhibit based around the Atlantic Ocean, and containing about 250 specimens. The tunnel is 11 metres long and on one side looks out over a huge tank of salt water, 7 metres deep. That brought us out at The Cyclades, taking us off to the Greek islands. Finally there is The Touch Pool, and we saw a scallop in its shell, opening and closing, which was fun.
The shop was a good one, and we ate at the restaurant outside and enjoyed our meal. Overall, I would say the Ocearium is very well worth a visit and as it will take you a few hours to see and enjoy everything, it provides excellent value for money.
You can see more photographs from our visit here.