Israel Aquarium in Jerusalem is not only an excellent place for animal lovers, but it is also devoted to the protection of marine habitats. Let’s begin!
Note: if you want to find additional info about animals and wildlife, check out Zoos and Aquariums in Israel.
Israel Aquarium is located at 1 Aharon Shulov, Jerusalem, near the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo.
Map of the area:
If you are driving, then either enter the “Israel Aquarium” or the address mentioned above into the navigation app. Moreover, there are many free parking spaces near the entrance.
If you arrive by public transport, here is a link to Moovit, where the endpoint is already set, so change the start point to your location, and you will get the updated directions. Also, I want to mention there is a train station next to the zoo (and this station is named after the zoo). And walking from the train station to the aquarium will take around 10 – 15 minutes.
There are no official opening hours. Moreover, the official representatives say that the opening hours may change daily. But since you are required to purchase tickets in advance for a specific time slot (through the official site), you will see the available slots when doing so.
I will mention that they are open both during the weekdays and weekends (Friday and Saturday). And the common opening hours are 8:00 – 17:00.
There are aquarium tours in English and Hebrew. And when you are looking for available slots, you can search for the days with tours. These tours are included in the ticket price.
When we visited, we did not register for one of the tours. But there are guides at each station, who give a short explanation. And we joined those short sessions.
As I mentioned above, you can not just arrive at the Israel Aquarium. You have to purchase tickets in advance through the official site. And when buying the tickets, you pick an available time slot.
Adult – 54 NIS.
Child (3 – 18 years old) – 45 NIS.
Zoo members – 35 NIS.
Students and seniors – 35 NIS.
Note: ticket prices were updated in March 2020. In any case, recheck the official site before visiting.
On March 2020, I have looked for coupons online, but have not found any.
About Israel Aquarium
The Gottesman Family Israel Aquarium, Jerusalem is a public aquarium in Israel inaugurated on 19.6.2017. The aquarium focuses on Israel’s marine environment – the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, as well as on the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. The Israel aquarium was built by the Tish Family Zoological Gardens (the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem) and is located next to it, but stands on its own as a separate tourist attraction. The aquarium will open to the general public for running in the period during the summer of 2017.
The Israel Aquarium is situated in one big building. The structure is divided into thirteen different spaces. And they are all placed conveniently on a circular trail. Completing this trail takes about one and a half hours.
Near this structure, there is a small Koi pond with sitting places and a small shop.
The fact that the whole attraction is inside an airconditioned building makes it perfect for visiting during bad weather (rainy or very hot). And we visited the Israel Aquarium on a rainy Saturday.
One important note before entering the Israel Aquarium. You are allowed to photograph, but the use of flash is forbidden. So, remove the auto flash before entering.
The entrance hall includes an information booth and locker room. This hall contains the first exhibit – a schooling display with hundreds of fish swimming to the right and marking the beginning of the route.
At the entrance, you can find the information booth, lockers and some basic information like what is a fish.
As you can see, all explanations are in Hebrew, Arabic, and English.
Four Seas of Israel Gallery
Next in line, after the entrance hall is the Four Seas of Israel Gallery.
This gallery presents the seas of Israel – the Sea of Galilee, the Red Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Dead Sea. The Sea of Galilee exhibit displays cichlid fish (Jordan St. Peter’s fish), and the Dead Sea has a dry exhibit framed. In the Mediterranean Sea exhibit, presented in seaside ruins that resemble the Caesarea area, contains gilt-head sea bream (Denis) fish. In the Red Sea, several dozen lionfish of two species fascinate by gliding up and down a central column of colorful corals.
The Dead Sea or Salt Sea is a saltwater lake that lies in the Great Rift Valley lake is located at the lowest point on earth (430 m below sea level) and its water sources are the Jordan River and seasonal floodwater. The Dead Sea is known as the ‘Salt Sea’ in Hebrew because it is a hypersaline lake (34%), 9.6 times saltier than ocean water.
Moreover, the Dead Sea and its surrounding interesting geological formations include salt crystals and a wealth of minerals such as potassium magnesium and bromine – all mined by industries in Israel and Jordan.
The Dead Sea’s name in English is not meant to be menacing. it simply derives from the lack of fish and other animals in its waters.
Source: sign on site
And though the Dead Sea does not have any fish, it is represented as well. But the more interesting fact is that it is not a sea, it is a lake. And it is not the only sea in Israel, which is a lake. You can find out the reason behind it in my full guide about the Sea Of Galilee.
POI #3 on the site plan is the Mediterranean Shoreline, which demonstrates a typical seashore with active waves.
This exhibit presents the Israeli seashore that is divided into two habitats – the rocky seashore and the sandy beach.
The Sherover Discovery Gallery
And we will skip to The Sherover Discovery Gallery (POI #3 on the site plan).
The Discovery Gallery contains various smaller exhibits that seek to introduce unique aspects of marine habitats. In the first exhibit, you can see a shipwreck and a gas or oil drill, and a band of barbed wire. In the open pool, you can feed common stingrays. Around the pool, different exhibits contain seahorses, stonefish, frogfish and ribbon eels.
In the center, you see the ray feeding pool. But the guide told us that they had unsuccessful pilot, and thus stopped with stingray feeding.
In the Sherover Discovery Gallery, you can also find aquariums with fish that use camouflage. For example, the stonefish.
As you can guess from its name, the stonefish uses camouflage to hide in rocks and sand. And if you see one, keep your distance. They have venomous spines on the dorsal fin and can be fatal to humans.
Another interesting species is the frogfish.
The frogfish has a worm-shaped strand on its head. And using it, it lures other fish. So basically, the frogfish uses a fishing technique to catch other fish.
Mediterranean Sea Gallery
The gallery begins with Mediterranean fish species such as mullet and continues with ray and eel species.
The exhibit also includes a huge tank of 1,500,000 liters of water with an underwater viewing tunnel and a large hall with a huge viewing window measuring 17 meters long and 5 meters high.
In this gallery, you can learn about some of the Mediterranean sea problems. One of them is overfishing. Another problem is pollution, specifically, plastic.
There are two sea turtles. They arrived from Sea Turtle Rescue Center after rehabilitation. Both of these sea turtles mixed up in plastic pollution. And though the rescue team was able to save them, each of them lost a limb.
Did you know that sharks constantly replace their teeth? And over a lifetime, some may lose 30000 teeth.
The Suez Canal
We have reached POI #7 on the site plan, the Suez Canal. There we watched a short movie about the Suez Canal.
The Gallery connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea presents a four-minute film documentary explaining the construction of the Suez Canal and its environmental effects. The film focuses mainly on the phenomenon of Lessepsian migration – migration of species from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean.
As it turns out, many species made their way to the Mediterranean sea from the Red Sea. Here is the translated quote from the official site:
In the summer of 2015, a parallel canal called the New Suez Canal was opened. That made it possible to increase the number of sailing vessels between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea to 90 vessels a day.
The opening of the canal created the first saltwater passage between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. For many years, the migration of species from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean was prevented by the “bitter lakes” – natural seas whose waters are saltier than seawater, which served as a natural barrier. But due to the flow of water from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, through them and comparing salaries, the barrier was removed, and plants and animals from the Red Sea began to appear and settle in the eastern Mediterranean.
Because the Red Sea is salty and poor in fertilizers and food relative to the Mediterranean, species derived from it have a significant advantage over Mediterranean species. Because of this advantage, we find mainly species from the Red Sea that migrated to the Mediterranean, and only a few species did the opposite way. This immigration phenomenon was named “Lessepsian migration” after the name of the French diplomat who oversaw the construction of the canal, Ferdinand de Lasses.
Invasive species, originating in the Red Sea and moving to the Mediterranean via the canal, have become part of the fabric of Mediterranean habitat. They have a considerable impact on marine ecology while competing and threatening the native species. About 300 species of the Red Sea have already been identified in the Mediterranean, and there are probably many other species that have not yet been identified. The recent expansion of the canal has raised concerns among marine scientists and biologists that the phenomenon of immigration will expand.
First Red Sea Gallery
In this gallery, you can see hundreds of clownfish (immortalized in the film “Finding Nemo”). These fish came from a special breeding farm in the Arava. In this gallery, there are other species such as Naso tangs and a unique exhibit of living corals.
As mentioned in the comment, there are many clownfish in this gallery. But they are not swimming in a regular fish tank. Kids can crawl underneath and pop their heads in the center of this aquarium. Hence, kids enjoy the extra activity, and parents get an interesting photo.
Overall, there are many spots in Israel Aquarium that are dedicated to photography. Whether it is special aquariums, additional lights, or spots for selfies. They really thought about the family photography aspect.
Longhorn cowfish has interesting defense mechanisms. First, when stressed, it is able to emit deadly toxins. And the horns may make it tough for predators to swallow it (these horns can grow back within a few months).
A special hallway lit in a unique way with different species of jellyfish.
Though it is not a big gallery, I enjoyed it a lot. The jellyfish are swimming gracefully, and the lightning is continuously changing.
Did you know that shuttle Columbia launched into space a payload of 2,478 jellyfish? They did it to test the Effects of Microgravity-Induced Weightlessness. You can find more about this experiment here.
Second Red Sea Gallery
At the base of this gallery is a huge 25-meter exhibit showing the coral reefs of the Red Sea off the beaches of the city of Eilat. The exhibition includes hundreds of fish of different species, such as clown coris, zebra sharks, porcupine fish, pufferfish, sergeant fish, triggerfish, colorful wrasses and more.
This gallery continues with an exhibit of lobster and eel species.
As the name suggests, the giant moray is a large eel, reaching up to 3 m (9.8 ft) in length and 30 kg (66 lb) in weight. Its elongated body is brownish in color. While juveniles are tan in color with large black spots, adults have black specks that grade into leopard-like spots behind the head.
The Second Red Sea Gallery also has a special aquarium. This water tank has a tunnel where children (and in some cases parents as well) can crawl and see the fish from the other side. Also, you can photograph your kids with the inhabitants of this aquarium. Like the child in red in the next photo.
The aquarium features a large collection of shells from around the world.
After the shell collection, we continued to the Education Center. The Education Center was screening a movie that told the story of Israel Aquarium, specifically about its construction.
Guardians of the Sea Gallery
The last on our list was Guardians of the Sea Gallery. There we read about different ways of protecting the sea. We also saw different artistic works. And most of them were on the topic of nature conservation.
This gallery concludes our visit. And it took us a little more than two hours to complete the round trail. Which is a little more than the suggested one and a half hours.
Yes. You can do it through the official site.
Yes, the Israel Aquarium is situated in a newly constructed building. Thus, you can visit it both during rainy and hot days.
Most people spend there for about one and a half hours. But you can always explore at your own pace.
Yes. You can find available slots at the official site.
Yes. The building is adjusted for people in wheelchairs and parents with baby strollers.
Both the kids and the adults enjoyed our visit to the Israel Aquarium. Moreover, since the whole activity is inside the building, it is the perfect solution for a rainy or a sweltering day.
If you are looking for additional ideas of activities with children, then check out Jerusalem With Kids.
Have you been to the Israel Aquarium? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!
For additional points of interest nearby check out Jerusalem page.
Additional ResourcesHere are several resources that I created to help travelers:
- Israel Trip Planner is the page that will help you to create your perfect travel route.
- National Parks And Nature Reserves page lists and put all national parks on the map. There is also a top list, information about ticket types and campsites.
- If you are looking for things to do, here are the pages for Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Sea Of Galilee, and Makhtesh Ramon.
- Wondering what events are there in Israel? Here is the Events And Festivals By Season guide.