A neoclassical château has been transformed into an aquarium. Surprising? Not at all – at Pairi Daiza, anything is possible. A famous cartoonist once said: “By believing in his dreams, man turns them into reality.” This was the thinking behind the transformation. The lower part of the imposing old building built in 1854 by Limburg, the architect who built the royal castle of Laeken, has been converted into large reservoirs and salt water basins where all kinds of marine creatures, aquatic plants and other organisms circulate and cross paths in a ceaseless ballet. This tableau once again illustrates the variety and diversity that has been bequeathed to us by Mother Nature.
But this biodiversity is fragile and has all too often been threatened or even destroyed by human activity.
With Cambron-by-the-Sea, Pairi Daiza celebrates the ocean, paying tribute to it and attempting to raise our awareness of the many challenges that now face the inhabitants of the blue planet. Let’s hope this message gets through to our visitors loud and clear. You are invited to explore these wonders of the deep in an atmosphere that is reminiscent of Jules Verne's novels and many other tales of the ocean.
There is no shortage of surprises, such as the charming choreography of a seahorse, the sudden appearance of a clown fish, the disturbing appearance of a moray eel or the stately progression of a huge turtle.
The main actors in this enchanting aquatic show may be fish, but we mustn’t forget to mention a few guests of honour who, by their presence, make a major contribution to the success of these giant aquariums: sea anemone, jellyfish, starfish and coral... The latter, originally from the South Seas, leads us on to our lagoon and its fascinating sharks. We have installed a huge aquarium with a transparent tunnel so that you can watch them swimming above your head!
Finally, let’s mention the quality of their meticulously maintained environment, populated with amazing plants as beautiful as any that can be found on dry land.
But now it’s time to “surface” and discover the other surprises that await us in the area reserved for this second world, a place that is less silent than we might expect.
The oceans have shown us their riches, but the land that borders and surrounds them also has many wonders. In Algoa Bay, just in front of the castle, the Cape penguins are indulging in their favourite pastime – waddling about. Their repetitive, jerky movements contrast with the sinuous swimming of the fur seals as they dart through the water – somewhat more active than the grey seals, who seem to prefer the “siesta” option! You might also feel inclined to take a little break at the Lighthouse, the perfect place to drink in the view and fortify yourself with an ocean-themed snack before setting off towards a whole new World!