The Vasco da Gama Aquarium was established as part of the commemoration of the 4th centenary of Vasco da Gama's expedition to discover the Maritime Route to India. Supported by King Carlos I of Portugal, the aquarium was built on land provided by the Ministry of Public Works. It was inaugurated in 1898, showcasing zoological collections gathered during oceanographic campaigns.

Today, the Vasco da Gama Aquarium offers an immersive experience, taking visitors on a journey through the depths of the ocean. It houses a wide variety of marine species and provides insights into the fascinating world beneath the waves.

The aquarium features over 90 aquaria and tanks, exhibiting more than 300 live marine species from the Portuguese coast, along with turtles and aquatic birds. However, in 2021, the aquarium made a shift and no longer houses large marine animals. Instead, it introduced a new interactive space called the "Window to the Ocean", designed to engage and educate younger visitors. This innovative area features a large interactive screen where children can explore educational films about fish, ocean characteristics, and conservation.

Upon entering the museum, visitors are welcomed into a reception area and a shop offering information, tickets, and unique products. The entrance area sets the stage for the aquatic adventure that awaits.

The first room encountered is dedicated to marine invertebrates. It not only showcases live species but also displays documents and equipment used by King Carlos during his research expeditions.

The upper floor of the aquarium is home to four additional rooms. The highlight is the "Noble Hall", housing a portion of the collection acquired by King Carlos I. This exquisite space features a ceiling adorned with marine-themed artwork, providing a visually stunning experience.

Next is the "Shark Room", which boasts an array of shark species, including rare specimens. Illuminated only by the light emanating from the showcases, this room creates a captivating ambiance.

The "Malacology Room" houses over 600 malacological species from the Portuguese coast. Despite being the smallest room in the museum, it offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of mollusks. Recommends

Finally, visitors can explore the "Marine Mammals and Birds Room", the largest room in the aquarium. Alongside marine mammal exhibits, this room showcases an impressive collection of exotic seashells, adding a touch of wonder to the overall experience.

With its rich history, diverse marine life, and engaging exhibits, the Vasco da Gama Aquarium continues to attract a significant number of visitors. Approximately 70,000 people explore its halls and tanks each year, appreciating the efforts of the Portuguese Navy, which has owned the aquarium since 1901.

Maintaining the aquarium's operations is a joint effort, with the Portuguese Navy allocating a budget for maintenance, while the remaining operating costs are covered by ticket revenues.

The Vasco da Gama Aquarium stands as a testament to the beauty and importance of the ocean's ecosystems. It serves as an educational hub, raising awareness about marine life, conservation, and the fragile balance of our planet's underwater world. A visit to this historic aquarium is a memorable experience that leaves visitors with a deeper appreciation for the wonders of the sea.

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