While Atlanta’s Georgia Aquarium still ranks as the world’s largest aquarium as of June 2011, travelers to Europe will discover a host of sprawling facilities devoted to the study of marine life. You’ll find Europe’s aquariums throughout the continent, from Britain to Turkey, and aside from sea life that can only survive in pressure of the ocean’s abyssal depths, visitors will be able to see almost every imaginable type of marine creature.
Nordsoen Oceanarium – Denmark
Located within downtown Hirtshals, Nordsoen Oceanarium (nordsoenoceanarium.dk) presents exhibits detailing different aspects of the North Sea’s ecosystem and inhabitants within its seven wings. Its tanks collectively hold almost a million gallons, and its amphitheater faces the largest tank, giving visitors an unimpeded view of the Oceanarium’s marine life. The Oceanarium’s Liim Fjord Seal Colony has a glass tunnel running through one of the pools, affording visitors an intimate look at the seals, and the site also hosts exhibits devoted to the North Sea’s regional fishing industry.
Sea Life London Aquarium
London’s Sea Life Aquarium (visitsealife.com) presents more than 500 species of marine life across 14 wings, each devoted to a different global marine ecosystem. The aquarium is home to 12 different shark species, and its Shark Walk allows visitors to walk along a glass platform above the shark tank for an intimate view of the marine predators. Its penguin grotto provides windows on its lower level, permitting guests to watch the birds frolic beneath the grotto’s waters.
Acquario di Genova – Italy
Acquario di Genova (acquariodigenova.it) is Europe’s second-largest aquarium, hosting 71 tanks over its almost 33,000 square-foot facility. The aquarium is home to more than 500 different species, representing marine life from the Mediterranean and the world’s oceans. Visitors can attend daily dolphin and seal shows, and children are welcome to attend the aquarium’s sleepovers, during which they’ll spend the night sleeping beside the shark tank.
Istanbul’s Turkuazoo covers more than 26,000 square feet and is home to more than 10,000 denizens of the deep. Its Seatube allows visitors to walk directly through a tank housing approximately 25,000 fish, and adventurous guests can SCUBA dive within the shark tank, where trained staff will provide instruction and guide them through the waters. Turkuazoo offers nightly sleepovers, giving children the chance to spend the night alongside the aquarium’s sharks and rays.