When visiting Vestmannaeyjar, a trip to the aquarium is a must! The natural habitat of the islands is quite unique as can be seen at the aquarium with its wonderful assortment of various life forms living in the surrounding ocean. For most of us, life beneath the waves is often hidden from view but, with a visit to the museum, fish and other sea life can be seen as they would be in their natural habitat.
The aquarium has been a large part of Vestmannaeyjar culture for many years. Children, who have always found the museum to be an adventure, first start visiting at an early age with their parents. Later they come as school students working on projects that lead them to a better understanding of the sea creatures housed at the aquarium. Further on in time they come back with their children and grandchildren and visiting out-of-town guests. Small and charming, the aquarium has always held a special place in the hearts of the islanders.
A Short Story from the Eruption
When the eruption started on Heimaey January 23rd 1973, the curator of the aquarium did not evacuate the island that night, as did the majority of islanders. He worried about the fish and other sea creatures remaining in the aquarium and decided that if they would have to be removed from their fish tanks due to lava flow or ash fall, that he would release them into the ocean. He insisted that the fish tanks and equipment be kept where they were and the contents of the building remained during the whole eruption despite the fact that most other buildings had been emptied. It was in March that a lava flow covered and destroyed the electric company’s generator building at the East side of the island. The fire department in town quickly took action and brought in a transportable generator that they connected to the pumps at the aquarium in order to insure that the fish would not die for lack of oxygen. This story reflects how special the aquarium is to the islanders, even during times of disaster.