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The Vasco da Gama Aquarium is a scientific and pedagogic institution which opened its doors to the public in 1898, during the 4th Centenary Celebrations of the Discovery of the Sea-route to India by the renowned navigator Vasco da Gama.
The building of an aquarium in Lisbon was the result of a combination of internal and external influences. As a matter of fact, it was during the 19th Century that Oceanography was born as a real science. However, the support of D. Carlos de Bragança, the last but one king of Portugal, was the determining factor in the construction of such an institution. An intelligent and dynamic man, member of several scientific institutions, D.Carlos distinguished himself as oceanographer and naturalist. From 1896 until 1907, he supervised twelve oceanographic campaigns off the Portuguese coast, aboard the 4 royal yachts "Amelia".
During these oceanographic campaigns he collected a lot of zoological material as well as physical and chemical data that he used as a remarkable work of scientific dissemination including several exhibitions and the publication of books and reports. Most of this zoological collection as well as the documents are now kept at the Vasco da Gama Aquarium, an institution of important historical value, considering its intimate relation to the birth of oceanography in Portugal.
To achieve its pedagogic mission, that becomes fundamental if we consider that it is the only institution of this kind in Portugal, the Vasco da Gama Aquarium includes two different sections, the Museum and the Aquarium, complementing each other and allowing the visitor to receive an enlarged view of the Aquatic World.
From its opening until the present days, the Vasco da Gama Aquarium has evolved as an aquatic life education centre which has undergone, all through more than 100 years of existence, several modifications in order to improve the quality of the exhition and therefore achieving, as best as possible, its important pedagogic mission.
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