|Toba, Mie, Japan
|24,981 m2 (268,890 sq ft)
|No. of animals
|No. of species
|Total volume of tanks
|6,000,000 litres (1,585,000 US gal)
Toba Aquarium (鳥羽水族館, Toba-suizokukan) is a public aquarium, which is located in Toba, Mie, Japan. The aquarium houses 12 zones which reproduce natural environments, housing some 25,000 individuals representing 1,200 species.
The guests are free to tour the aquarium's grounds in any manner they please, as there is no fixed route. The total length of the aisle is about 1.5 kilometers. In 2015, the total number of visitors exceeded 60 million.The aquarium is characterized by the fact that 80% of the visitors are adults, and is described as a "quality aquarium.
Toba Aquarium opened May 1955. It was founded by Haruaki Nakamura(中村幸昭), now the honorary president. It has received more than 50 million visitors, making it one of the most visited locations in Japan.
The opening of the aquarium was triggered by the fact that tourists visiting Mikimoto Pearl Island saw the fish tank of Marukou Suisan (a marine products wholesaler that handles high-end fish) on the opposite shore when they crossed to the island by boat, and came to visit on their way home.
The plan to open an aquarium was proposed in response to this, and since it was the same year that Toba was incorporated as a city under the slogan "Marine Tourism City," and the first mayor, Kokichi Nakamura, and the president of Marukou Suisan were close friends, the plan proceeded smoothly, and on May 15, 1955, Marukou Shoten opened the 26th aquarium in Japan The admission fee at the time was 20 yen.
The admission fee at the time was 20 yen (half price for children), and there were five full-time employees, but employees of Maruko-Suisan were also dispatched to operate the aquarium.
The first aquarium was a "handmade aquarium" with a 200 tsubo pond divided into four sections and stocked with penguins, sea lions, sea bream, yellowtail, and yellowtail, etc. The aquarium was marketed as having a guide.
In 1956, the aquarium became the Toba Aquarium Corporation, and on January 31, 1958, it was designated as a private museum under the Museum Law.
The aquarium was originally located west of its current site, but when it became too cramped, the current site, the former Toba factory of Shinko Denki, was acquired and the first phase of construction was completed on July 2, 1990, and the aquarium was relocated to its current location. On April 1, 1996, the official website was launched and online shopping began.
On August 3, 2009, the number of visitors reached 55 million, a first in Japan. On March 8, 2010, the museum's 55th anniversary, the number of visitors reached 5,555,555, and on April 2, 2015, its 60th anniversary, the number reached 60 million.
The founder and former director, Yoshiaki Nakamura (the fourth eldest son of Marukou Fisheries), is currently the honorary director of the museum. Nakamura was told by Keizo Shibusawa, "Develop the aquarium into a good aquarium, and when profits increase, return the profits to academic research and social education," and he took these words to heart and realized them as described above.
The aquarium was temporarily closed from March 2 to March 20, 2020 due to a new type of coronavirus. (This was the second time the museum was closed since Isewan Typhoon (1959).) Then, due to the declaration of a state of emergency, the museum was temporarily closed again from April 10 to May 17, 2020. It resumed normal operations on the following day, May 18.
Toba Aquarium is also known as the best research facility in Japan.
The aquarium hosts scholarly investigations as an adult education institution in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology officially specifying the Toba Aquarium as a museum. Toba Aquarium also emphasizes protection and breeding of rare marine creatures which are in danger of extinction. Notable breeding events include the birth of a finless porpoise, a birth of the second generation sea otter for the first time in Japan. The facility has a laboratory where specimens are compiled and open to the public. dugongs are bred in only three places in the world, and Toba Aquarium is one of them.
The museum also focuses on the protection and nurturing of rare marine life in danger of extinction, and holds the world records for the birth of a baby snapping turtle and Japan's first second-generation sea otter, the world record for dugong breeding at 11,475 days (31 years and 5 months), and the world record for nautilus breeding. The male dugong Junichi, who had broken the world record, died on February 10, 2011 (Heisei 2011) at the estimated age of 33.）
Toba Aquarium has had 20 cases of Commerson's dolphin births in the past. Commerson's dolphin "Stella" has been in captivity for 22 years and gave birth on June 21, 2023 at 6:42 AM, her fifth case.
Toba Aquarium is dedicated to the study of megamouth shark. Megamouths have been captured four times in the past off the coast of Mie Prefecture, and a stuffed specimen, measuring 5.2 meters in length, was landed off the coast of Mie in 2005. This specimen was dissected and put in formalin to study its feeding habits.
In 2011 and 2017, megamouth sharks were captured alive, and an official from the breeding and research department of the Toba Aquarium in Mie Prefecture said, "There are only 120 cases of discovery in the world and about 20 in Japan, so it is rare to see them alive." The shark was captured alive in 2017.The sharks were released because their large size made transportation to the aquarium difficult.
He is also working on research on Bathynomus giganteus. In the past, Bathynomus giganteus "No. 1" fasted for an extended period of time and has not responded to monthly feeding since January 2, 2009, reaching its sixth year of fasting in January 2014.Although Bathynomus giganteuss have always been resistant to starvation, there has never been a case of a Bathynomus giganteus fasting for such a long period of time, and a plan was made to broadcast niconico for a long time to show Bathynomus giganteuss in a fasting state. However, on February 14, 2014, at around 5:00 p.m., when the keepers came to feed the animals in time for Valentine's Day, "No. 1" was confirmed dead.
On February 12, 2016, we were able to photograph and record the process of "No. 5" molting.The shell had been whitening and showing signs since the beginning of the year, and we were able to confirm that the molt had begun early in the morning of the 12th, and were able to photograph and record the process. The molt ended around 14:00 on the 12th. This was the first video footage of the molting process that could be recorded, at least in Japan.
In May 2020, an Bathynomus giganteus defecated for the first time in two years.
When Bathynomus giganteus dies, the aquarium holds a funeral service. On February 18, 2014, a memorial program for Bathynomus giganteus No. 1, who fasted for a long period of time, was broadcast live on niconico, temporarily taking down the Toba Aquarium's server.A memorial program was also broadcast after the death of Bathynomus giganteus No. 9.
The aquarium is divided into 12 main zones.
Toba Aquarium holds an annual induction ceremony called the "Underwater Induction Ceremony" inside a large aquarium tank.
Initiated by a senior staff member of the aquarium, the ceremony will be held for the 13th time in 2019; in 2020, viewing will be limited to approximately 30 relatives of new employees and general visitors to prevent the spread of the epidemic of new coronavirus infection.
In the underwater initiation ceremony, the new employees (keepers), dressed in wet suits over their suits, enter the tank with cylinders on their backs, underwater glasses and fins on their feet, receive a waterproofed letter of appointment, and polish the glass of the tank underwater as their "first job". The induction ceremony is open to the public, and the new employees address the visitors underwater; one of the 2013 new employees commented after the ceremony, "I want to provide information that is not on Wikipedia.
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