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Pula Aquarium: Discover the riches of the Adriatic

Pula Aquarium is the largest aquarium in Croatia located in the Verudela Fortress, part of the once powerful defensive complex. The fortress is located 3 kilometers from the center of Pula, so you will not find a multi-hour trip in front of you if during your visit to Pula you decide to end up in the aquarium. Since Pula, along with many other cities, was definitely on our list of tours, we decided to visit the aquarium. We had never visited it before so this opportunity seemed ideal as we were looking for any museum or cultural asset we could visit. Since we are lovers of wildlife, we knew that visiting the Pula Aquarium will be an unforgettable experience.

Pula Aquarium entrance
Entrance to Pula Aquarium

Considering that we visited the aquarium on vacation in the height of the season, we paid a bit more for the ticket because from March 1 until November 1, adults pay 130 kn, students and pensioners 100 kn, children from 7 to 18 years 100 kn, and children from 3 to 6 years 70 kn. If you decide to visit it between November 1 and March 1 you will pay the ticket at a slightly lower price – adults 100kn, students and pensioners 70kn, children up to 18 years 70kn, and children up to 7 years 50kn.

Various exhibitions within the Pula Aquarium

As we mentioned, the aquarium is located in the fort, so the first thing you will notice when you approach the imposing building is that you enter the historic building. What we liked is that at the entrance it is clearly indicated in which direction to go to buy tickets in several languages, so you will not have problems navigating wherever you come from. The kind lady sold us tickets and instructed us where to start first. She noted that within the aquarium there are several different exhibitions that deal with different topics, so you will be able to see the Adriatic exhibit, Mediterranean Exhibit, Tropical Freshwater Exhibit, Tropical Marine Exhibit, The North Seas Exhibit and Cold Freshwater Exhibit.

View from the fortress
View from the fortress

The first creatures to greet us when we entered the fort were various crabs and sea urchins. The crabs climbed their legs as if to show us that they are the main ones here. Apart from the animals themselves, we were also interested in the ambience in which they lived, and it was an imitation of sea soil full of sand and stones. In addition to crabs, we could see shellfish and the coexistence of lobster with fish, just as it happens in nature. We weren’t as interested in fish as we were in crabs. They just swam calmly, ignoring our views. We joked that life would be much easier for us if we always behaved like this and didn’t care what other people would think of us.

What we have to mention is that these are species that live at slightly greater sea depths, so it is not surprising that the corridors we walked in the aquarium are quite dark, and the light that reaches us is mostly blue to better mimic natural habitat of these animals. If you don’t like blue color, you might not like it too much…

ribe

In addition to live animals that you can see and study while walking in the aquarium, there is interactive content that will encourage you to try it, so we stopped at a table with pictures of 3 species of fish and we had to guess the growth of farmed fish. It is not enough to say that we were ashamed and that we did not hit anything. But what matters is that we had fun. After that we went into a narrow hallway where we had to move quite fast considering that there were quite a few other visitors behind us who wanted to visit everything. We are sorry that this part of the exhibition is not set in a larger space, because this is the hallway where the posters that take you to the age of the dinosaurs are placed on the walls. Unfortunately, we did not manage to study them carefully, but if you find yourself in an aquarium, we assume that this part will delight every lover of history and dinosaurs.

pogodi uzrast

Various exhibitions within the Pula Aquarium

As we continued our hike through the Pula Aquarium we realized that here we will not only see fish and crabs but that we have the opportunity to see different amphibians such as alligators. We especially liked those three who rested carefree without caring about curious looks. After that, we were attracted by the cute axolotls in black and white color. There were more than 20 of them in one part of the aquarium and we were intrigued by how some moved in pairs and some completely alone. Those in pairs looked like they were out for a walk in a park. Wonderfully!

Axolotls in Pula Aquarium
Axolotls in Pula Aquarium

On the walls next to various smaller aquariums we could read a lot about animals and their habitats so you will be quite happy if you come here to learn something. The road took us further to larger aquarium units where we saw sharks, rays, starfish and fish. They all live a peaceful life next to each other. After that scene, another interactive board caught our attention – it was called Sea of ​​Sound. Why did we like this? Well by the name itself you can conclude that something can be heard here. So, there are 10 species of sea creatures on the board (seahorse, cockatoo, blackbird, sea urchin, lobster…) whose picture you press so that you can then hear how they sound through a small speaker. We liked the cockatoo fish sound the most, which even included growling, which surprised us and made us laugh. We thought only dogs and their relatives growl…

Sea of Sound
Sea of Sound

And then we came to the Mediterranean moray. We don’t know what you think, but we wouldn’t want to meet this fish. Never and nowhere. We think this is one of the scariest creatures we have ever seen. This fish can be seen in all zoos and aquariums, but no matter how many times we see it we cannot get rid of the feeling of fear. Every time we see her we shudder! To recover a bit from the shock again, we decided to read something about the matulčić fish and we were not disappointed. Get ready for a weird fact! – Matulčić is a species of fish that incubates eggs in the oral cavity, but this is not the only interesting thing because it is not the mother fish that does that but the male. Carrying eggs in the mouth lasts up to a week, after which the young hatch.

Mediterranean moray
Mediterranean moray

The corridors separating the exhibitions contain various posters, exhibits and curiosities on their walls. Of course, there are too many of them to describe them all (and yet you need to see something for yourself) so we decided to show you just a few. In this case, they are framed pictures with descriptions of individual creatures next to their real skeletons – sponges, mosses and brmbuljak. (We know that the last name is extremely funny, especially because it is somewhat reminiscent of the word “bramboljak”, which in Croatian means rabbit excrement.). After a short laugh we continued on. In the next room we were greeted by various starfish, sponges and sea anemones which we could have expected according to these pictures we saw in the hallway in front.

Sponge
Sponge

Exterior of the Pula Aquarium

After that we came to the outer part of the aquarium, so after a long stay in dark rooms we were shocked by the intensity of sunlight. Even our eyes hurt, but luckily we had sunglasses with us which we immediately put on our eyes. The outer part of the aquarium is filled with animal sculptures, interactive whiteboards, and contains a space where butterflies and turtles live. In this part, we met 3 indigenous species of land turtles that live in Croatia: caspian turtle, european pond turtle and Hermann’s tortoise.

While watching the turtles, we realized that there are butterflies that live here, and in order not to run away, the aquarium set up nets throughout the area. In addition to live butterflies, we had the opportunity to get to know their pupae and learn all about the formation of a new body of butterflies from pupae. Did you know that the complete transformation of a butterfly from a caterpillar takes two weeks, and for those butterflies that survive the winter in the pupa, it can take several months? We did not!

Turtles
Turtles
Kukuljice
Butterfly pupae

This time we came across a poster that talked about the evolution of dolphins and whales. Since we had enough space this time to study what was written on it, we did. We couldn’t believe what kind of animals dolphins and whales we know today actually came from. We were most impressed by the fact that their ancestors actually had 4 legs, and as evolution went on, those legs simply disappeared to eventually turn into fins.

We re-entered the fort and continued to tour the rest of the lineup

The first creatures that stole our view for a long time were jellyfish. These jellyfish we saw were very small and transparent. They looked like some kind of sea feathers and it’s actually amazing that they’re living beings. Next to the aquarium there was a screen where we could see which species of jellyfish live in the Adriatic and the only thing we will say is that they are truly beautiful. What you should also know is that there is a very poisonous jellyfish in the Adriatic, and that is Pelagia noctiluca, which makes large amounts of phosphorus in itself at night and that is why it glows. It is considered the most poisonous jellyfish in the Adriatic.

Jellyfish in Pula Aquarium
Jellyfish in Pula Aquarium

Furthermore, we met sharks and rays in several aquariums and then came to an extremely interesting exhibition space. This scene left us speechless and aroused considerable discomfort in us. It just means that it is fantastically set up because it is an exhibition that clearly shows the damage that people do to nature and the environment by throwing garbage into the seas and oceans. The most shocking sight for us was certainly a dead turtle entangled in a fishing net. We think this scene is something that would certainly make everyone sad, but we hope it would also encourage him to think about it the next time he wants to throw something into the sea.

Dead turtle

Pula Aquarium is a place that takes care of endangered and injured animals

We then went into the part of the aquarium where tables appeared in front of us where we could see the microscopes set up. At first we thought it was just a display, but we soon realized that there are chairs next to the tables and visitors are allowed to look through a microscope lens. Of course, we took this opportunity. We liked that microscopy was actually made possible for everyone, not just people who had already learned it somewhere. Plasticized instructions are placed next to each microscope explaining the parts of the microscope and how it works so no one should have a problem. In the microscope room there are also several aquariums with small marine animals that we were able to observe.

This aquarium is special in something else too. In addition to a rich display, the fortress also has a Turtle Recovery Center, a refuge for an endemic species of noble periwinkle shell, cares for corals and endangered cartilaginous fish. The Center says: “The Sea Turtle Recovery Center operates within the” Pula Aquarium “and the association” Marine Education Center Pula “and cares for injured sea turtles from all over the Croatian part of the Adriatic. In addition to treatment and care, the activities of the Center are also related to raising awareness of the general public about their protection. One of the forms of education is the manifestation of the return of sea turtles to the sea, which takes place every year on the International Sea Turtle Day, June 16, on the beach near the Lighthouse. “

If you have not yet visited the Pula Aquarium, we think that this summer is the right time for such an endeavor because, believe us, you will not regret it.

Your CTC Team, A. M. 

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