The underwater life of Lofoten is just as worth seeing as the picturesque landscape. At the Lofoten Aquarium, you will come face to face with the creatures of the Vestfjord.
The Lofoten Aquarium is right down by the water’s edge at Storvågan, west of Svolvær. It aims to show you the life hiding in the waters around Lofoten and the north — not just fish, but sea anemones and starfish, and mammals such as seals and otters.
Seals are a hit along the entire Norwegian coastline
The seal basin outside is home to four common seals: two adult females and two pups. A large number of these seals live along the Norwegian coast, growing to 80–100 cm (30–40 inches) long and mainly feeding on herring. Seal pups have been born in this basin every year since 1996, a sure sign that the seals are happy here. They are fed every day at 12 noon and 4 p.m., and their mealtimes are usually watched by a crowd of spectators.
Practical information on Lofoten Aquarium
Lofoten is a mountain chain that extends out into the North Atlantic in north west Norway. The main arterial road through Lofoten is the E10, and is usually taken from Narvik in the east. If travelling by car it is worth taking the route through Vesterålen and then on to Lofoten to enjoy the most of what is on offer in the region. Svolvær and Leknes in Lofoten have their own airport with scheduled flights with Wideroe airline. Meanwhile Svolvær and Stamsund are both on the Hurtigruten boat line.
The Museum Nord website has a page on the aquarium with all the information you’ll need about planning your visit.
Visit Lofoten is the local tourist board and their webpage has all the information needed for visiting this mountain chain.
Otters have found sanctuary at the aquarium
The aquarium’s pair of otters is a real favourite for many visitors. The European otter has been hunted almost to extinction throughout most of the continent, including Southern Norway, but the species has found a sanctuary here in Northern Norway.
Wolf-fish are fanged but peaceable
Visitors are fascinated by the blueish spotted wolf-fish that hug the bottom in large groups — and this behaviour is unsurprising, since they are one of the most sociable types of fish. They also have a wholly undeserved reputation as being aggressive, although they are in fact a peaceful fish that only use their formidable teeth to crush crabs and shells. But they will certainly bare their teeth if they are provoked.
Northeast Arctic cod are guaranteed
The Lofoten Aquarium is the only place in the world to guarantee Northeast Arctic cod all year round. This cod usually lives in the Barents Sea, but from January to April, it comes down to Lofoten to spawn, giving rise to the Lofoten cod fishery — the largest in the world. And you can see this in the aquarium all year round.
Halibut and flounders are found on bottom
Everything is lying low in one tank. Flounders, halibut and skate live on the sea bed, where they feed on animals and microorganisms that dwell on the bottom. The halibut is born with a normal fish’s head, but the facial features gradually move around until they are all on one side, whereas the flounder has this lopsided face all its life. And the cartilaginous skate’s closest relative is the shark!
Salmonids are an important part of modern day aquaculture
Salmon, rainbow trout and Arctic char live in special aquarium tanks, the beautiful reddish Arctic char being happy to live in fresh water here. These shining salmonids are born in fresh water and grow up in the sea, eventually finding their way back to the river of their birth, where they spawn. Salmon and Arctic char are native to Northern Norway, while the rainbow trout was introduced from America. Salmon and trout play an important role in the coastal aquaculture industry, and there are two salmon pens to visit in the sea beside the aquarium.
Journey from the shoreline to deep waters
Anyone who has walked along the shore in Northern Norway knows that it’s full of life. Exhibitions show rock gunnel, viviparous blenny, langoustine and lobster. The lobster’s northern limit is in Tysfjord, just before Lofoten, but sometimes they are caught in Lofoten itself. The king crab, however, does not come from Lofoten; it lives in the cold water of the northern Pacific. It was introduced to the Barents Sea by the Russians, and is now creeping west along the Norwegian coast, though it hasn’t got to Lofoten yet. The mild waters of the Gulf Stream around Lofoten might be too warm for this huge crab.
Coexistence of industry and environment is a hot topic
Lofoten is a place where fish grow and mature, is an important area for aquaculture and also an area of interest to the petroleum industry. The ‘Art of Coexistence’ exhibition indicates ways in which the traditional fishing industry, the new aquaculture industry and the as-yet undeveloped petroleum industry can exist alongside each other. It has a strong environmental focus, is interactive and provides a unique educational setting, a place to study the industries’ potential and developments in a national and international context.