Since we moved to Georgia, our life has centered around putting our new house together and dealing with our dog issues. That hasn't really left a lot of time for us to explore our new city. However, on February 1, I officially turned 40 years old (gasp)! I had been dying to check out the Georgia Aquarium for years, and this seemed like the perfect day to take off of work and go for a visit. Plus, admission is free on your birthday, which was an offer I couldn't refuse.
I had been hearing how amazing this place is for years, and it did not disappoint. It is the largest aquarium in the Western Hemisphere. We easily spent the day there, checking everything out.
When we walked in, we entered a large room full of color and light. The space was divided into five specific galleries, which surrounded this central room. There was also a cafeteria and a gift shop.
There was no specific order that the aquarium should be viewed in. We happened to get there about fifteen minutes before the dolphin show was going to start, so that was our first stop.
As you are walking in to the Dolphin Tales gallery, there is a huge tank where you can watch the dolphins playing. Beyond the tank is a big theater where you can watch a half hour dolphin show. No photography was allowed (and was strictly enforced), but it is definitely worth catching if you are there during showtime.
Tropical Diver was the second gallery we explored.
|Garden eels, poking up from their homes in the sand.|
|I am pretty sure these cuttlefish were posing for me|
|A graceful sea nettle|
|I love watching the jellyfish glide around their tanks|
|A clown fish in an anemone|
|A harlequin snake eel, which is very cool from behind the glass.|
|It is hard to tell form this picture, but the manta rays are huge|
|Trying to give a little perspective on the size of the whale shark.|
|An alternate view of a whale shark swimming by.|
|We got to watch a sea otter feeding|
|We were also on time for the penguin feeding|
|The beluga whales were spectacular and very playful.|
|The piranhas were easily my favorite thing in this gallery. There were a little bit creepy (I have probably seen way too many horror movies).|
|I wasn't too keen on the electric eel either, but I can appreciate him from behind the glass.|
There was an additional exhibit called Aquanaut Adventure, which was geared towards kids. However, that is where these guys were hanging out.
During our time at the aquarium, we made friends with a docent who told us about the All-Access Backstage Pass. For an extra $15, you can take a behind the scenes tour, and see the inner-working of the aquarium. If you visit, I highly recommend doing this.
|This is the top of the Ocean Voyager exhibit|
|We got very close to the whale shark feeding|
|We got to watch some training for the new seal exhibit that is coming in March...|
|...And see the beluga whales from another perspective|
|The seals and beluga whales are kept in the same tank until the exhibit opens. They can also be found together in nature.|
|This is the filtration system for the Tropical Diver exhibit|
|There is a wave machine that generates waves to keep the water in Tropical Diver oxygenated. This is what it looks like from within the exhibit (you can also watch it on the aquarium webcam).|
|On the tour, you get to see how the wave is created.|
|To wrap up, a little information on how much food it takes to keep this aquarium going.|
I have a feeling this will be a place we visit many more times over the years. There are additional tours that you can take for extra money that involve one on one encounters with penguins and sea otters, which are two items most definitely on my bucket list.