Last but not least on this week’s journey through the aquariums of the world is Japan’s Churaumi Aquarium, which means “beautiful ocean” in Japanese. Churaumi temporarily held the record for the world’s largest aquarium, but the Georgia Aquarium took the crown after it was completed.
Still, the world’s second biggest aquarium is nothing to sneeze at. The aquarium boasts an impressive 10,000 cubic meters of H20 (2.6 million gallons) and displays more fish than you can shake a chopstick at.
This aquarium is a bit unique in that it specializes entirely on local sea life. Rather than using animals from all over the world, the Churaumi is divided into three different sections, each one showing off the wildlife of specific Japanese regions.
The second area displays the inhabitants of the famous Kuroshio (Black Current). This nutrient-rich portion of the sea is the foundation of the local aquatic biosystems, and it is teeming with enormous fish, sharks, and manta rays.
The third and final exhibit shines a dim light on the murky depths of the abyss. Here, pale fish swim through clouded tanks, tempting prey to their doom and wowing onlookers with their bizarre shapes and alien faces.
One of the Churaumi’s main attractions is the Shark Research Lab (Sea of Dangerous Sharks). Because let’s be honest: who doesn’t love sharks? Here, tourists can check out live specimens of sharks as they patrol their tanks, or feel awed by the massive fossilized jaws of the extinct megalodon shark, a beast that dwarfs the modern-day great white shark. They’ve even got a hands-on area where you can feel the sandpaper-like skin of various shark species.
After visitors have had a heaping dose of primordial fear at the shark zone, they can unwind at the dolphin, manatee, and sea turtle pools, where the inhabitants are more concerned with fun and games or lazy lounging.
Churaumi also has a bit of a reputation for its successful breeding programs. Nearly half a dozen manta have given birth at Churaumi since its opening, while the manatee tank holds a few manatee young.