Japan’s Largest Jellyfish Aquarium Saved by the Nobel Prize in Chemistry
The magic of jellyfish is best seen when they furtively move through the water with a tranquil grace; it has a hypnotic quality. They are also the main attraction at the Kamo aquarium facing the sea in Tsuruoka, Japan. It is the pride of the town, following renovations in 2014, it was named the biggest jellyfish aquarium in the world.
With no less than fifty different species, ranging from tiny little nudas, to gigantesque Nomura jellyfish measuring as long as two meters, a guided tour of the aquarium begins with an introduction to local fish, and ends with a petting section. Children (and childish adults) are invited to get up close to sea cucumbers (namako) and starfish (hitode) before heading on to the various jellyfish tanks, the deepest measuring five meters.
Built in 1930, the aquarium had already been among the largest of its kind for a number of years, however it was only in 2014 that it was officially recognised. It is undoubtedly the 2008 Nobel Prize for chemistry that saw its visitor numbers increase, propelling numbers to record-breaking heights. It was the Japanese scientist Osamu Shimomura who was recognised for having discovered the fluorescent green protein GFP observed in Aequorea Victoria jellyfish. At the time, the Kamo Aquarium was the only center to breed this species, and thus saw visitor numbers increase by seven!
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