Kamo Aquarium 加茂水族館
Credit: Keiji Maeda
Credit: Jasmine Li
For jellyfish lovers
Refurbished in 2014, Kamo Aquarium contains the largest variety of jellyfish in the world.
It looks like a long, slender white boat stranded along the beautiful rocky coast of Tsuruoka, northwestern Japan. Kamo Aquarium was completely refurbished in 2014.
The facility was founded in 1930 by a group of volunteers, but over time welcomed fewer and fewer visitors. It escaped bankruptcy, somewhat surprisingly due to... the winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2008. Osamu Shimomura was honored for his discovery of the green fluorescent protein (GFP), observed in the jellyfish Aequoria Victoria. At the time, Kamo Aquarium was the only place that held this particular species. Because of this, the number of visitors to the aquarium soared.
About fifty species
The renovation of the site and the choice of making it an aquarium specializing in jellyfish seems to have definitely saved the facility. Visits to the aquarium have increased sevenfold, say its officials, and visitors now average about 400,000 people a year.
About fifty species of jellyfish are on display, the largest collection in the world. For the most part, it wasn't necessary to collect them from far away, since a hundred species naturally evolve in the surrounding waters!
Colors, sizes and shapes alternate in beauty from one tank to the next. The lighting are neat. The facility even has the largest pool of jellyfish, five meters deep. Non-Japanese speaking visitors will enjoy the sights, but unfortunately there is little information available in English.
Ice cream with jelly...fish
At the end of the route, about twenty jellyfish reproductions made by the designer Charles-Alexandre Lesueur (1778-1846) are on display, accompanied by texts of French literature chosen by the biologist Jacqueline Goy, a French jellyfish specialist. The exhibition was realized in partnership with the Museum of Natural History in the city of Le Havre, France.
Kamo Aquarium is not limited to just jellyfish. It also offers sea lion shows, and incubates the eggs of other aquatic animals such as octopuses. And, to finish your visit, in the gift shop or cafeteria you have the chance to taste jellyfish ice cream or other sweet treats!