If you go by the queue and swelling number of visitors at the Kamo Aquarium in Tsuruoka, Yamagata Prefecture, it would be hard to believe that this aquarium was once on the brink of closure. Dwindling numbers and stiff competition from other neighboring aquariums had forced the aquarium director, Tatsuo Murakami, to rethink his strategy in order to survive. The answer came from unexpected quarters: the jellyfish!
Kamo Aquarium houses more than 35 species of jellyfish in an underground exhibition area called the Kuranetarium. This of course is take on that Japanese word for jellyfish, “kurage,” and planetarium! Given the fact that jellyfish don’t last more than 4 months, breeding them in captivity is extremely difficult. The undeterred staff has resorted fishing in the nearby oceans to replenish stocks and in the process has found over 80 species in their vicinity.
Guinness World Records recognizes the aquarium as having the largest number of jellyfish species in its collection! To top it off, the visitor’s list includes Osamu Shimomura, the 2002 Nobel Prize winner in chemistry. He won the prize for his discovery of the green fluorescent protein from a variety of jellyfish. How fitting! The aquarium attracted 221,000 visitors last year, the largest number in its history. Attractions at the aquarium including jellyfish in food and in souvenirs!
Some Jellyfish Facts: