The CretAquarium Thalassokosmos is located in the northwest coastal zone of the former American base in Gournes, 14 km east of the city of Heraklion and 12 km and 20 km west of Hersonissos and Malia, respectively. The Aquarium of Crete is one of the largest and most modern aquariums in Europe and has been operating since 2005. The CretAquarium is part of the Thalassokosmos building belonging to the Hellenic Center of Marine Research – the largest marine science center of the Mediterranean marine world.
The purpose of the CretAquarium is to inform, educate, raise awareness of the diversity of Mediterranean species and habitats and also to emphasize the relationship between man and the marine Mediterranean environment. At the same time, it seeks to create stimuli and it functions as food for thought concerning the protection and management of the marine Mediterranean ecosystem, offering a unique spectacle that captures young and old.
The CretAquarium now includes 60 aquariums of varying sizes from 125 to 900,000 liters by having a total amount of 1,700,000 liters of sea water. These aquariums host about 2500 marine – mostly Mediterranean – organisms. The visitors can admire from tiny seahorses to huge sharks that pass by in front of them in a breathtaking distance. The sea turtles, jellyfish, groupers, lobsters, crawfish etc. are also impressive. Visitors can also experience colorful tropical fish and sea anemones. The organisms are housed in huge tanks that are specially shaped to respond to their natural environment and their habits. What can be seen is truly spectacular and the space reveals the grandeur of the marine world.
Contemporary audiovisual systems and innovative info-points with touchscreens, projections through video projectors scattered along the aquarium route and observations of the interior of the aquarium provide supplementary information added to the general experience that the visitors will have in the CretAquarium and thus they can create an integrated understanding of the structure and function of the Mediterranean marine ecosystem.
CretAquarium also has a complete system of individual guided tours available in 9 languages: Greek, English, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Polish, Russian and Czech. This system consists of handheld devices that operate just like mobile phones and the visitor has the opportunity to enrich his knowledge with numerous explanations, comments and information that he listens at his own pace according to his preferences by simply typing the number of the tank in the device.
In addition, CretAquarium Thalassokosmos offers its visitors the opportunity to discover its unseen side, i.e. the spaces that support the daily operation of the aquarium, the “backstage” of the species’ survival at an area of 2600 square meters. These are tanks that serve purposes such as animal adaptation and their de-worming process, their development until the appropriate size, medical care in case of a pathological problem, the production and maintenance of food (phytoplankton, zooplankton, mussels and algae) and the observation of the organisms for scientific purposes. The specially trained staff is ready to answer various questions and queries about all the above.
In the aquarium area, there is also a snack bar, a café and restaurant as well as the Aqua shop which has memorabilia and smart educational gifts inspired by the world of the sea and the environmental protection.
The CretAquarium Thalassokosmos is open to the public throughout the entire year by having winter and summer hours of operation.
Should you need additional information please visit the CretAquarium Thalassokosmos site.