Aquariums have long offered a window into the underwater worlds that most will never have the chance to explore in the wild. While a typical home aquarium might contain 29 to 30 gallons of water, the globe’s most impressive public aquariums eclipse this figure many times over. These are places where the giants of the ocean—the whale sharks and the manta rays—are not just residents but the main attractions. These are the largest aquariums in the world.
Deciding which aquariums are the largest isn’t simply about the total volume of water. Rather, it’s about the size of the largest individual tank. This single, vast container of water creates the illusion of an endless ocean within a finite space, a carefully monitored ecosystem where these majestic creatures can thrive.
Exploring these facilities offers more than just an encounter with marine life; it becomes an educational journey, revealing the complexities of aquatic conservation and the often monumental engineering that makes it all possible.
1. The Gargantuan Marine Sanctuary in Western Australia
Nestled within a scenic Perth suburb, stands a colossal wonder: a marine sanctuary housing the largest single aquarium tank in Australia. Spanning an impressive length of 40 meters and breadth of 20 meters, this underwater marvel contains 3,000,000 liters of aquatic habitat. As you traverse the 98-meter-long underwater tunnel, you’ll be enveloped by an aquatic panorama.
Imagine gliding beside sharks and rays with the guidance of the aquarium’s dive master. This hands-on experience offers an intimate encounter beneath the waves, creating an unforgettable connection with the diverse species calling this tank home.
2. The Enchanting Marine Gateway of Genoa
At the heart of Italy’s seafaring lore lies the Aquarium of Genoa, an expansive marine sanctuary boasting 70 aquatic displays. Your exploration will reveal a variety of ecosystems, from the lush seascapes of the Mediterranean to the vibrant underwater worlds of the Red Sea and Indian Ocean.
Visiting here is a journey through diverse marine habitats that sustain a community of over 6,000 creatures. You’ll find yourself enthralled by the grace of dolphins, the playfulness of seals, and the silent power of sharks gliding through their spacious habitats.
3. Shanghai Ocean Aquarium (about 1 million gallons)
Shanghai Ocean Aquarium, notable for its extensive collection of various aquatic environments, boasts nine themed zones reflecting regions ranging from China to Antarctica.
In the China Zone, you’ll find a sanctuary for endemic species from the Yangtze River, highlighting the importance of biodiversity conservation. The showstopper, however, is the record-setting underwater passage. Extending 155 meters, this tunnel is the longest globally, immersing you in a seamless aquatic ballet.
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4. uShaka Marine World (about 1 million gallons)
When you step into the realm of uShaka Marine World in Durban, you’re immersed in African aquatic magnificence. This destination houses Africa’s largest aquarium with 32 specialized tanks, showcasing a diversity from sea horses to sharks. Architecturally designed to resemble a sunken shipwreck, this environment enhances your explorative experience. During your visit, you might find yourself dining at The Cargo Hold. Here, surrounded by the serene view of a shark-filled aquarium wall, you can indulge in culinary delights while admiring some of nature’s most formidable predators within arm’s reach.
5. Monterey Bay Aquarium (1.2 million gallons)
Nestled in the historic Cannery Row, the Monterey Bay Aquarium holds a special allure, where echoes of its sardine cannery past blend with awe-inspiring marine vistas. In its Ocean’s Edge Wing, you’re greeted by a 33-foot-high tank, brimming with life from the Californian coast in nearly a third of a million gallons of water.
Venture into the Outer Bay Wing to encounter the true spectacle: a 1.2 million gallon habitat, crowned by one of the planet’s grandest single-pane windows. Here, rays glide and jellyfish dance, while sea otters frolic — their antics visible both above and at the water’s surface. This grand showcase not only mesmerizes with its plethora of Pacific dwellers but educates on the fragility of undersea ecosystems.
6. Turkuazoo’s Immersive Marine Experience
At the heart of Forum Istanbul Shopping Mall lies an underwater realm: Turkuazoo, Istanbul’s premier marine exhibit. Opening its doors in 2009, it was the pioneer in Turkey’s massive aquarium scene. Enticing you with habitats like the rainforest and flooded forest zones, it showcases the abundant life beneath the waves.
- Aquatic Collection: Over 10,000 marine animals, including formidable tiger sharks and graceful giant stingrays.
- Main Exhibit Capacity: A staggering 5 million liters (1,32 million gallons)
- Highlight: A captivating 80-meter underwater tunnel offering panoramic views of the aquatic marvels.
- Exhibits: 29 distinct showcases, each a window to different marine wonders.
- Special Feature: A delightful journey through tropical seas.
Your stroll through the tunnel may make you feel like a part of the ocean itself, surrounded by the ballet of aquatic life, where even piranhas coexist in a carefully balanced ecosystem.
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7. L’Oceanografic (1.85 Million Gallons)
L’Oceanografic in Spain stands as Europe’s grandest aquarium and a marvel within Valencia’s architectural gem, the City of Arts and Sciences. Boasting over 45,000 marine lives, its water-filled haven spans nine towers, each meticulously designed to emulate diverse marine ecosystems.
- Total water volume: 7 million liters (approximately 1.85 million gallons)
- Notable Features:
- Two-level underwater towers
- 35-meter-long submerged tunnel connecting towers
- A tank teeming with sharks and rays
8. Okinawa Churaumi: A Marine Spectacle
Nestled within Ocean Expo Park, you’ll find a vast domain of marine life: the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium. Opened to the public in 2002, this impressive institution is home to the Kuroshio Sea tank, a colossal aquatic chamber holding 7.5 million liters of water, an equivalent of nearly 2 million gallons.
- Vast Dimensions: The primary window into this underwater world measures a remarkable 27 by 74 feet, making it the world’s most expansive acrylic glass panel at its debut.
- Remarkable Residents: The tank houses whale sharks and various species of manta rays, among a diverse population of sea creatures.
- Conservation Milestones: Notably, the aquarium celebrated the birth of four manta rays, a testament to its successful breeding programs.
This captivating aquarium allows you to witness the magnificence of marine biodiversity, underscored by a display that melds both aesthetic beauty and conservation science seamlessly.
9. Dubai’s Subaqueous Jewel: Home to Thousands
Nestled within the grandeur of The Dubai Mall, a marvel awaits beneath the surface: a vast tank holding an impressive 2.64 million gallons of water. Here, more than 33,000 sea creatures create an undersea tapestry, weaving through an aquatic ballet of sharks and rays—over 400 in total.
- Aquatic Capacity: 10 million liters
- Animal Residents: Over 33,000
- Highlight Species: Sharks and rays
- Record Achievement: World’s largest acrylic viewing panel
Marvel at the world-record acrylic viewing panel, a transparent canvas stretching 27 feet high and 108 feet wide, introducing you to this submerged realm. Although there was a momentary disruption in 2010 when a leak paused the hustle of mall life, the integrity of this underwater domain has since stood unchallenged. Open your eyes to the deep at Dubai’s premier retail palace.
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10. Atlanta’s Marine Jewel: A 6.3 Million Gallon Wonder
Nestled in the heart of Atlanta, you’ll find a colossal marine haven: the Georgia Aquarium. More than merely an attraction, this aquatic sanctuary holds a world record for its expansive habitat filled with 100,000 aquatic beings. Opened to the public through the generosity of Bernie Marcus, the co-founder of Home Depot, it emerged as a marvel in November 2005.
Beyond the vast array of marine life, the aquarium is distinguished for hosting whale sharks, magnificent creatures rarely seen outside of Asian waters. They reside within the grand Ocean Voyager exhibit, a 24 million liter (6.3 million gallons) aquatic expanse replicating the open ocean.
While their presence is awe-inspiring, it comes with concerns about the effects of captivity on these gentle giants, highlighted by past whale shark fatalities at the aquarium.
Despite the debates, Georgia Aquarium remains a beacon that sheds light on the delicate balance between conservation and education.
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