Milestones in the history of Nausicaá

From dream to reality

1977: Having been elected mayor of Boulogne, Guy Lengagne decides to give his city an aquarium worthy of France’s biggest fishing port.  It is no ordinary aquarium that is being built, because at this time, the mayor sets the main aims that Nausicaá still embodies today: to be a research centre and an educational resource for all ages, to raise public awareness of the marine environment, and at the same time to be an attractive recreational centre that can attract hundreds of thousands of visitors to the region. 

1991: The French National Sea Centre Operating Company is created. It is christened NAUSICAA.

18 May 1991: The centre opens its doors to the public.

1994: Arrival of the first jellyfish.

1995: First temporary exhibition, “The Sea and Children”.

1998: Nausicaá’s area doubles to 4,500 m² of exhibition space. This extension, which includes approximately 10,000 new sea creatures, is home to the Californian sea lion reserve and the Tropical Lagoon Village. Sharks and coral reefs can be observed in this tropical area.

1999: Nausicaá is designated as a Centre of Excellence in Marine Environment Education by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission following its active participation in the International Year of the Ocean in 1998.

2002: The World Ocean Network is created. The World Ocean Network is an international association of museums, aquariums, scientific centres, educational organisations, institutions and non-governmental organisations. Its aim is to raise public awareness of the importance of the ocean for the future of mankind and the impact of our day-to-day actions on the marine environment. Each of these institutions works at a local and regional level, but the development of partnerships and the joint work done by the network have global impact.

2003: Opening of the “Stormy weather for the Planet!” exhibition: the first exhibition about climate change. 

2005: Arrival of the caimans in the “Submerged Forest”, a new area which has been included since the beginning of 2005 in “The Planetary House”, which provokes thought on consumption behaviour.

2006: New display area: “Steer South!” and arrival of the African penguins.

2007: The ten millionth visitor arrives. The second-biggest tourist attraction north of Paris, NAUSICAA is a magnet for tourists and a driver of economic development.

2008: Launch of “Planet Nausicaá”, a unique interactive multimedia system. The exhibition-reports on Madagascar and the Mozambique Channel is opened.

In October, with the help of a veterinary surgeon who specialises in sharks, Nausicaá achieves a world first: a surgical operation on a sandbar shark belonging to Nausicaá.

On 14 November, Nausicaá is awarded first prize for medical training for the care of sea lions at the IMATA (International Marine Animal Trainers’ Association) annual conference in Cancún, Mexico.

2009: Books by Christine Causse and Philippe Vallette go on sale in bookshops: “Secrets des abysses” published by Fleurus and “Madagascar, l’île océan” with photographs by Alexis Rosenfeld, published by Autrement.

The first baby penguin, an African penguin, is born.

2010: Official launch in France of the Mr Goodfish European campaign. Implemented in association with Genoa Aquarium in Italy and Aquarium Finisterrae in Spain under the aegis of the World Ocean Network, this project aims to involve consumers in efforts to conserve marine resources.

2011: Opening of the “Island Stories” exhibition. For its twentieth anniversary, Nausicaá offers “Island Stories”, a new exhibition which inspires visitors to dream and travel and gives them a change of scenery with spectacular or unusual creatures such as the giant octopus, the carpet shark or seadragons and multimedia animations amid highly innovative scenic design. The aim of this exhibition is to showcase the sustainable development activities that are being developed by islanders, who are real pioneers in ocean management.

2013: New décor and new seating with 600 seats for the Californian sea lion reserve.

2014: Opening of the “At Sea on Board the Thalassa area focusing on ocean research, in partnership with IFREMER.

2015: New temporary exhibition: “Ocean & Climate: It’s Getting Hot in Here!” in partnership with Météo-France and the National Museum of Natural History.

2016: New area: “Tropical Forest: Incredible Biodiversity”. Nausicaá celebrates its 25th anniversary.

2017: The mangrove swamp welcomes new residents: tawny hermit crabs (Coenobita rugosus), mudskippers (Periophthalmus barbarus), Malagasy blue stick insects (Achrioptera fallax) and Madagascar day geckos (Phelsuma madagascariensis).

2018: Nausicaá expands. The extension turns the French National Sea Centre into Europe’s biggest aquarium. Driven by the Communauté d’Agglomération du Boulonnais (the local combined authority) and its president, Frédéric Cuvillier, the mayor of Boulogne-sur-Mer, the extension is aimed at 1 million visitors who come every year.

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