Aquariums: Zoos of the Seas and Rivers

If you’ve been following along for the past couple of weeks, you know that Garlands in Paris in middle of a creativity series on the theme of the Outdoors. Today, I’m excited to introduce you to Nolwenn, a dear friend and fellow blogger. I asked her to reflect on this month's theme in a Parisian museum. Without further ado, I’ll let Nolwenn take it from here:

I love aquariums. They are the zoos of the seas and rivers. And the underwater world is definitely the most wonderful world there is. The diversity of colors and shapes is endless. If one thinks of Nature as an artist, the sea is probably its masterpiece.

Aquariums are kind of museums too, in a way. I don’t mean that fishes are artworks. No, they are living individuals that deserve care, respect and freedom that they unfortunately no longer have when they live in an aquarium, obviously (and they have the right not to be eaten as well!).

But when we go to a museum, we learn a lot of new information and we discover things we’ve never seen before. I don’t live by the sea (even if I would love to) and aquariums are the same in that way, they are like bridges between fishes, anemones, rays, tortoises and me.

Garlands in Paris launched a collective project about museums and art. This month’s subject is Outdoors. Obviously, I wanted to write an article about fishes! And for this article, I decided to go to the aquarium of Porte Dorée, underneath the Musée de l'histoire de l'immigration, in Paris.

Dans le bonheur by Diadji Diop (“Nager dans le Bonheur”, “swimming in happiness”, means to be overwhelmingly happy)

An aquarium is kind of like a painting. There are beauty, colors and a scenery in a square.  Fish are chilling, hanging out in their little world and I’m sure a lot of incredible stories happen between them, stories that we couldn’t possibly be ever aware of.

Some aquariums are landscapes and their inhabitants…

Red piranhas, minding their own business (and not moving at all, like they’re striking a pose or something)

Clown fish and benggai cardinal fish in their beautiful settings

Blue tetras and red shrimps on a very green background, I love those colors.

And other aquariums are simply portraits.

Meet the giant tigerfish, that we call “dog fish” in French. But I really can’t decide if it looks more like a tiger or a dog…

The humphead wrasse. And in French, we call it... le napoléon! I guess it’s because of its bump on the head.

Beautiful, scary and amazing things happen in aquariums. Like a statue or a painting, you can have your own understanding of what you see, interpret the scene and the relationships between the characters.

Those are the freshwater angelfish. I’m sure they’re having an amazing conversation!

The French grunts, preparing to kiss (or fight)?

Cuddle time with a black and white clownfish and an anemone.

A Nile perch and a giraffe catfish talking about the meaning of life.


-What's new?

-Not much.

-Morning, morning, morning.

-Frank was just asking what's new.

-Was he?

-Hey, look. Howard's being eaten.

-Is he?

-Makes you think doesn't it?

-I mean... what's it all about?

-Beats me.

(Yeah, I couldn’t resist…)

In the aquarium of Porte Dorée, of course there are fishes, but there is always a little exhibition as well. The current exhibition ends at the beginning of July, it’s about the French Southern and Antarctic lands (TAAF). Here is their website. It’s rather small but very interesting so don’t hesitate to go. Besides, you can see fishes before and afterwards, so why hesitate, right?

One last thing about this aquarium… In the middle, there is a display about crocodiles and turtles. There are actual crocodiles and turtles and information about their anatomy and habits. But there is also a display about poaching with belts, bags, decorative objects made with crocodile leather and turtle shells.

I hate looking at it because it’s absolutely horrifying but I also like it because it allows the visitor to remember how cruel men can be towards animals and how unnecessary it is.

One might call that art… I call it slaughtering.

Besides, it’s far better to look at healthy living animals like this cutest ray!!

Come see me at the aquarium soon!

About the author: I’m Nolwenn, a Parisian of adoption. My blog, Je me prends pour une artiste ("I pretend to be an artist"), is about what I see, what astonishes me, what happens to me, what I like, what I hate, what I think… And there are a few nice pictures on it, too! Feel free to have a look!

All photos courtesy of Nolwenn.

This is an installment of Creative June on the theme of the Outdoors. If you missed it, check out a description of the project here