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Travel Ideas: The National Aquarium

By: Tracy Grinnell

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Be a tourist and see an exotic world ... in Baltimore! Looking for an unusual way to spend quality time with friends and family? Well, you can have fun and beat boredom by taking a trip to The National Aquarium in Baltimore, which opened its doors on August 8, 1981 and today remains one of the "most sophisticated and technologically advanced aquariums in existence."

Why an Aquarium?

An aquarium can open up a new and exciting world that most of us never get to experience first hand. The National Aquarium in Baltimore is one of many aquariums across the country that's committed to providing the public with intriguing and innovative looks at deep-sea life and conservation issues worldwide. All of its exhibits have been created to replicate natural environments with no unnatural mixing of species and spotlight diverse worldwide habitats.

Exciting Exhibits

Exhibits at the aquarium include a widely diverse collection of creatures and habitats that every visitor will find fascinating.

The Ray Exhibit: Wings in the Water showcases sleek stingrays that share a 265,000-gallon pool with several species of small sharks.

The Maryland: Mountains to the Sea exhibit "traces the water cycle from a freshwater pond in the mountains of western Maryland through the Tidal Marsh, into the Coastal Beach and out into the deeper, darker waters of the Atlantic shelf." Fish, bullfrogs, painted and softshell turtles, blue crabs and a variety of fish and invertebrates will definitely capture your attention.

Surviving Through Adaptation will mesmerize most everyone who views it. Electric eels, a giant Pacific octopus, jawfish, sea urchins, etc., are curiously strange creatures that share the same habitat. They're joined by sturgeons, paddlefish and gars – primitive fish that haven't changed an ounce in more that 70 million years! Truly a sight to be seen!

Puffins spotlights birds of the North Atlantic – puffins, razorbills and black guillemots – in their true-to-life and habitat – chilly sea cliffs!

Amazon River Forest and Tropical Rain Forest are two more true-to-life exhibits that will captivate you with natural recreated habitats and the animals that can be found in each.

Atlantic Coral Reef is a vibrant display of colored fish that are all housed in a huge 335,000-gallon tank.

Sharks: The Open Ocean is a great exhibit for those who can stomach a possible nose-to nose meeting with sand tiger, lemon, sandbar and nurse sharks.

Seals: Outside Main Aquarium. This free outdoor exhibit showcases mostly seals that have rehabilitated injuries and can't return to their wild habitats. You won't have to look too hard to find Ike and Lady who, together, weigh more than a half a ton!

If you're still hungry for more incredible sights, you can check out the regularly-scheduled dolphin shows that take place daily on The Marine Mammal Pavilion.

Get the Most Out of Your Visit

When planning your trip, it's important to be prepared with some good get-up-and-go tips to help make your aquatic adventure a smooth one for the whole family.

  • Many aquariums offer online ticket purchasing on their Websites.
  • Many offer family learning activities on their Websites.
  • Most have wheelchair accessibility for the physically disabled.
  • Many have assisted listening devices for the hearing impaired.
  • Many have special site maps in different languages.
  • Many offer extended summer/holiday hours.
  • Many have changing hours of operation and different holiday hours.
  • Many offer special services, rates and exhibits.
  • Most offer discounted group rates, combo tickets and memberships.
  • Many have special exhibits and events for children.

    Call ahead to find out more information.

    Extra Info!

  • For information, call: 410.576.3800 or access the Website at www.aqua.org.
  • For (hearing impaired) information, call 410.625.0702.
  • Rates: Adults: $14.00; Children (3-11): $7.50; Adults 60 and older: $10.50; Children under 3; Free.

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