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Marine Aquarium

The Marine Aquarium is housed in the basement of the Palm House, recreating four major marine habitats and emphasising the importance of marine plants.

Photo of turtle in the marine aqarium

Marine habitats at Kew Gardens

The Marine Aquarium recreates four major marine habitats:

Coral reefs

These are among the most unique, complex and productive habitats on the planet. Reef-building corals are animals - coral polyps - most of which obtain some of their nutrients from minute algae in their tissues. The polyps extract calcium from seawater and excrete it to form their chalky external skeletons, which create the reef.

Human intervention, such as industrial scale prawn fishing and even uncontrolled tourism, together with natural disasters can threaten the fine balance of these often fragile ecosystems.

Estuaries and salt marshes

This is where rivers meet the sea, they are fertile and productive tracts with their own communities of hardy and vigorous 'pioneer' plants. Pioneer plants stabilise mud and silt, raising the mud level and eventually, as other species arrive and the cycle continues, dry land appears.

Mangrove swamps

These are the tropical equivalents of salt marshes and have evolved their own flora and fauna for the local conditions. Estuaries, salt marshes and mangrove swamps, by their very nature, positioned between land and sea are highly adaptable habitats of constant change and development. They provide vital nurseries for fish and other marine life.

Rocky shorelines

They can be found at the base of cliffs, of which the British Isles have many miles, are among the best habitats for highly productive populations of seaweeds. Different seaweeds are adapted to surviving in distinct zones with other plants and animals. The tidal regime -- the depth and reach of the tides -- together with the topography and geology of the shoreline, determine which seaweed thrives where.

Swimming with plankton

Swimming with Plankton in 3-D

Experience this new world created by artist Iona Scott. See the underwater world as a microscopic organism swimming among swarms of fellow plankton in this unusual 3-D programme.

This popular display was created for Kew's 2004 'New Views' summer festival, and will remain in the Marine Aquarium in the Palm House until further notice.  

The equipment for this display has been kindly donated by Inition - The UK's leading stereoscopic 3-D and virtual reality specialists. 

Please note
Unfortunately this display is not accessible for wheelchairs