The giant high-seas tank holds a central place on the tour and offers a highly immersive and sensorial experience. The architecture of the building, designed by Jacques and Sophie Rougerie, is inspired by the marine world and the silhouette of the manta ray, which, seen from the sky, spreads its wings towards the ocean.
The scenography adds to the immersive experience from the surface to the abyss through its looped composition, the choice of materials, the atmospheres and sounds, and the lighting, all of which are designed to plunge visitors into the high seas.
This immersion into the world of the high seas awakens all the senses. The music is an orchestration of sounds carefully crafted to match the interior architecture of the building. It mixes real sounds, such as the sound recording of sperm whales, with imaginary sounds created in the studio. The acoustic concept is as much a part of the visitor experience as the scenography.
A technical challenge every day
First of all, a few figures: Nausicaá features 10,000 m² of exhibition space and the total volume of its tanks represents 17,000 m3 of water.
If all the pipes used to treat the water were laid end to end, they would cover a distance of 7 km. The water circuits of the two exhibitions are not connected to each other. The "Mankind and Shores" exhibition has 11 independent water treatment circuits (8 for sea water and 3 for fresh water); the "Journey on the High Seas" exhibition has 2 circuits, both for sea water.
What is the water circuit at Nausicaá?
The tanks at Nausicaá are supplied with sea water that is taken directly from the sea here in Boulogne-sur-Mer: 1% of fresh seawater is added to the large tank every day and the water in this tank is renewed 6 times a day; and 1% of the water in the large tank goes back into the sea after being purified.
Water quality is essential to provide optimal living conditions for the 58,000 animals that live in Nausicaá, whether in the exhibition areas or in the aquariological reserves. Therefore, samples are taken from the tanks every day for physico-chemical, chemical and microbiological analysis.
Water filtration is vital for all of the tanks. With the opening of the Journey on the High Seas exhibition in 2018, a "cathedral" was installed to filter the water in the aquariums: each filter containing filter sand weighs 17 metric tons.
Energy and lighting
As you will see during your visit, the light that fills the aquariums varies according to the time of day.
A significant amount of the lighting in the large tanks, such as the high-seas tank, the sea lion tank, the submerged forest tank or the penguin tank, is natural. The windows and openings in the roofs let in light and thus follow the cycles of the seasons and the lunar cycles.
Additional lighting controlled by timer is provided by special LED bulbs. There is even a blue night light that mimics the moonlight.
The "scenic" lighting is switched off at night. Therefore, only natural moonlight passes through the openings above the large High-Seas tank, to resemble the conditions in the natural environment as closely as possible.
The energy needed to run Nausicaá is 100% renewable and produced locally. Thus, 75% of the heat required to heat the centre and the water in the tanks comes from internally recycled energy and the remaining 25% is supplied by Boulogne's urban heating network.