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The first public aquarium in Italy

Entering the historic public Aquarium of Naples, the oldest still functioning, designed to show the ecosystems and biodiversity of the Gulf of Naples and more generally of the Mediterranean and their possible evolution in relation to changes, means crossing the threshold of time and diving in the dream of its founder, the zoologist Anton Dohrn, to provide and disseminate knowledge of the underwater world.
The Aquarium, in fact, was inaugurated in 1874 only two years after the foundation of the Zoological Station itself, "the great hotel of scientists", as Benedetto Croce defined it, which took place in March 1872, to fulfill the triple function of live observation of the sea, entertainment and research funding.

DSC02109 2 copia 2Flora and fauna of the Gulf of Naples

Students, scientists and researchers from all over the world came to Naples to analyze and study animals live and in their natural environment. Just a few steps were enough to leave your rented study table, equipped with a very rich instrumentation, to find yourself face to face with the subject of your own research, living or "fixed" by the skilled hands of the conservators of the Stazione Zoologica, first of all Salvatore Lo Bianco.

Located on the ground floor, the Aquarium was connected, and still is today, directly to the sea by an underground channel. The engineering work was entrusted to the English William Alford Lloyd, who had already developed the aquariums in London and Hamburg. The exhibition rooms received natural light from the side windows and skylights and the semi-darkness thus generated made the visit even more immersive.

Today the architectural layout has remained unchanged. The restoration and necessary modernization works, have allowed the maintenance of the ancient exhibition tanks dedicated to the environments of the Gulf of Naples and the peculiarities of its marine life, equipping them with the most modern and sophisticated technological systems to ensure the well-being of the organisms that populate it. At the same time it shows a great novelty, represented by the large central tanks hosting the tropical coral reef, the vision of a possible change in the Mediterranean induced by environmental changes.

Discovering the Aquarium

dettagli specie Aquarium SZN DOHRN Autore Marco Signore 11The journey inside the Aquarium will then lead the visitors to discover the sea, from the coast to the open sea, between caves and ravines, along seagrass meadows, passing from the coralligenous to the abyss, from the pelagic environment, also inhabited by alien species, from Mediterranean reefs to tropical formations. Of particular interest will be the murenarium, which represents the breeding structures of moray eels (murenari) designed by the ancient Romans and well preserved in the submerged archaeological area of ​​Gaiola in Capo Posillipo. Another novelty is the octopus tank, an extraordinary ancient organism that has a life cycle of about two years and an intelligence similar to that of mammals.

The knowledge of the richness of the sea and of the biodiversity it contains, as well as of all its wonders, must lead each of us to the awareness of its importance for our very survival. To protect it and manage it in an eco-sustainable way, we need to know it and even today our knowledge is not complete.
Dohrn's dream has never ceased, the scientific and cultural climate of his Stazione Zoologica, currently the National Institute of Marine Biology, Ecology and Biotechnology, considered in an international ranking among the best 20 Scientific Research Institutes in the world, has reached us and allows us to look at life and the mysteries of the underwater world with open eyes.

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