On March 29, 1910, Prince Albert I inaugurated the Musée Océanographique de Monaco / Oceanographic Museum of Monaco. He stocked it with specimens he collected over his 30 years of sea exploration and expeditions. Some of these specimens had not been seen before. The “Scientist Prince” had each set into its own display inside a white stone complex overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and his own Principality.
As a scholar and patron of the Arts and Sciences, Prince Albert I had dedicated much of his life to the study of the sea. He understood its biodiverse interdependence and created the museum to share his vision so others would understand and respect all marine environments.
In its aquariums today, the oceanographic museum contains more than 6,000 specimens in their reconstructed natural habitat. One of its present features, a shark lagoon, is arranged to reveal a coral reef and its dwellers from one side and larger shoals from another, deeper side. You can take a virtual tour of the museum!
The reef is a live coral successfully transferred from the Djibouti Reef in the Red Sea. Thanks to the “living sand” method developed by Professor Jean Jaubert of Nice University, the reef not only made it through the transfer and transplant, complete with all the natural flora and fauna, it has thrived and continuously grown corals for over 25 years. Since the Djibouti reef, the Monaco Aquarium added a Tropical Hall of marine tanks, each with reconstructed reefs of living coral from the Indian and Pacific Oceans, Red Sea, and the Caribbean. These continue to flourish on Jaubert’s sand process and the expertise of the aquarium’s technicians and biologists. The pioneering work of this aquarium in developing coralliculture, the growth of corals in protected natural or created controlled environment, keeps the facility at the cutting edge of reef aquarium design.
The success has led Prince Rainier III to create the Scientific Centre of Monaco that has become a specialist centre of international study on the function of tropical and Mediterranean coral ecosystems with specific reference to global climate change and oceans.
The museum is the premier showcase of Mediterranean and tropical marine ecosystems. It holds many features in permanent and temporary exhibition. For example, as you might expect of a museum once headed by Jacques-Yves Cousteau, it often features exhibits or other materials related to his life and work including his famous “Yellow submarine”. There are skeletons, fossils, film documentaries of marine life, as well as many of the neat machines from early explorations. The Oceanographic Museum of Monaco continues to honour its founder’s belief in Art and Science as the two driving forces of civilization.
B Bondar / Real World Content Advantage