It’s not quite a journey 20,000 leagues under the sea, but the Numazu Deep Sea Aquarium & Coelacanth Museum is situated on Suruga Bay, which is 2,500 meters below sea level at its deepest point. The aquarium not only features inhabitants of Suruga Bay but also inhabitants of the deepest parts of the world’s oceans.
The aquarium opened in 2011, after a local marine company poured 6 billion yen of its own funds into the construction of this aquarium, with the goal of making Suruga Bay a source of local pride. In fact, this is the first aquarium in the world with the theme of deep sea creatures. Much thought and preparation has gone into the aquarium, as feeding and caring of deep sea creatures who existence remains shrouded in mystery is difficult.
The two-story aquarium consists of two parts. On the first floor, you’ll find plenty of mysterious and rare species who reside in the deepest, darkest parts of the world’s oceans. Among the rare fish you’ll find here are the bluntnose sixgill shark and giant isopods. However, it is the collection of coelacanth at Numazu Deep Sea Aquarium that makes it one of the rarest aquariums in the world. Housed on the second floor of the aquarium is the Coelacanth Museum, where you will find five coelacanth; two frozen and three stuffed specimens.
The coelacanth was originally thought to have gone extinct 66 million years ago and is considered a living fossil. Due to its conservation status, it has become impossible to see a living coelacanth in Japan as its export/export and commercial fishing has been banned. All the coelacanth on display here have already been in Japan prior to the fish being designated a a threatened species.
Shizuoka is only a 1 hour shinkansen ride away from Tokyo, making Numazu Deep Sea Aquarium & Coelacanth Museum and the rest of Shizuoka’s sights an attractive day trip.