These turtles (see picture) that have just hatched from their eggs in a sand pit and are in a hurry to reach a rescue surf, they can become the most amazing impression of a trip to the Cretan Aquarium (CRETAquarium)―that in Gouves, not far from Heraklion. These are not simple ones―the big-headed sea turtles Caretta carretta protected by Greeks at all costs. Squealing from delight, children in the Cretan aquarium are trying to grab at least one little baby tortoise, but it does not work! This is just an optical illusion―a film: projector stands above.
This is perhaps the only illusion―everything else is real: rocks and grottoes, sharks and stinrays, corals and sea anemones. In total, there are there 2500 marine organisms of the Mediterranean on an area of 15 acres. Behind the glasses is another world that can be watched tirelessly.
Blue-eyed perches are fighting, a red scorpaena guards its victim, a hermit crab protrudes carefully from a shell, and jellyfish dance waltzes like little ballerinas in bright turquoise water. Freeze and watch or rotate a funny identifier in nine languages to understand what kind of creature is in front of you. Children do not need all these wisdom: most of all, small spectators, are at those turtles and at a huge aquarium with sharks. A huge one is completely mesmerizing, gliding along the glass like a spaceship.
If you are tired, there are plenty of comfortable sofas on multilevel platforms. At the entrance, you can take an audio guide and sit down at one of the aquariums looking the video right in front of you. There are also open aquariums where stingrays dance and starfish meditate (you cannot stick your hands in the water!). There are racks with computers: for those who are thirsty for additional information, if suddenly some “striped purple murex” would attract your particular attention, and you don’t know who it is.
All these passages, portholes and musical background, any detail (like funny signs for toilets) are so appropriate that you forget that you are on land. It seems you are inside of a Cousteau underwater submarine, and the building of the Cretan Aquarium itself resembles a ship. You are leaving the “deck” after a two-hours-sightseeing, as if you came back from an underwater cruise.
By the way – CRETAquarium is open year-round!