Oceanário, Lisbon

The spectacular attraction of Oceanário in Parque das Nações was opened in 1998 as the centrally located feature at the final World Fair of the 20th century held in Lisbon. The major theme for the first exhibition was entitled, “The Oceans, a Heritage for the Future.” It emphasized Lisbon’s life-long bond with the sea and the ocean’s inhabitants. Completely dedicated to educating the public about all important aspects of sea life and its conservation, this expansive modern facility and its staff promote solutions to the current day’s environmental problems and challenges as their primary focus. The goal of the staff is to help visitors understand how they can each make a valuable contribution to conserving the natural oceanic environment.

The great variety of sea life displayed at the Oceanário facility reveals the immense diversity of ocean creatures living within the seas of the world and how very important all aquatic animals and organisms are to the continuing evolution and well-being of the earth. In fact, this giant aquarium lends support to numerous scientific research studies concerned with maintaining biodiversity in the oceans and promoting healthy use of these vital saltwater environments on our planet. The combined knowledge and talents of Oceanário’s engineers and biologists create exhibits that fascinate and educate visitors on all aspects of sea animal welfare, using state-of-the-art display techniques and technology. These aquatic experts are also in high demand as consultants for other oceanariums.

Lisboa’s Oceanário is one of only a very few aquatic environments around the globe with a sunfish among its resident sea life. Sunfish require ongoing meticulous care, which depends on the tireless efforts of dedicated and well-trained staff members. Additional outstanding resident species in this colorful giant aquarium include a pair of large spider crabs along with sea otters, called Eusébio and Amália as the namesakes of two modern Portuguese cultural sources.

Oceanário houses 450 different species of sea life totalling approximately 16,000 aquatic residents. The marine life population in this unique aquarium is comprised of such species as rays, sharks, starfish, chimaeras, seahorses, sea urchins and crustaceans. Other underwater creatures in this environment include octopuses, sea snails, cuttlefish and jellyfish. The oceanarium is also home to terrestrial and marine plants, amphibians, and such mammals as sea otters, seagulls and penguins.

The breathtaking major exhibit is within an expansive tank of 5,000 m3 (180,000 cu.ft.) with large viewing windows. It houses at least 100 different global aquatic species including barracudas and moray eels as well as the celebrated sunfish. Four additional tanks surrounding this large central one display characteristic flora and fauna from four distinctly diverse environments, as follows:

- the rocky shoreline of the North Atlantic;
- the rugged coastline of the Antarctic;
- the temperate climate of the Pacific coastal kelp forests;
- the Indian tropical coral reefs.

The facility's architectural and conceptual design as well as the exhibits’ structure and layout was administered and overseen by architect Peter Chermayeff. Visually, it is similar to an aircraft carrier that is included in a pier design situated on an interior sea. Lisboa’s Oceanário is a picturesque, educational and extremely popular feature of the Parque das Nações in Lisbon. It is one amazing attraction that draws close attention and focus from guests of all ages from around the world.