New Exhibits at the Public Aquaria

From Microcosm Aquarium Explorer

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Visitors in the popular underwater kelp forest stroll at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Monterey Bay Aquarium


By Bayley Lawrence

Summer attractions—from exotic new species to tankside dining and live entertainment—abound at North America's leading public aquaria. Herewith roundup of some noteworthy current attractions.

Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk

The Aquarium re-created the African Safari from a unique underwater perspective. Visitors will experience catfish that have the noses of elephants and giraffes, electric creatures of the deep, and more. Visitors will get a close-up look at fish and reptiles from all of Africa’s primary bodies of fresh and salt water. Species include Cichlids from Lake Malawi, atmospheric air-breathing lungfish, electric catfish, knifefish, ropefish, doctorfish, elephantnose, giraffe-nosed catfish, baby whales and butterflyfish.

Beyond fish, the exhibit contains bright green giant day gecko, black mud turtles and exotic boa snakes. All this comes with a healthy serving of conservation education, in the form of stories and messages about animal adaptation and the importance of habitat preservation.

Also, be sure to pay a visit to the rare white albino alligator, one of only 44 known specimens!

Maritime Aquarium


Monterey Bay Aquarium

The Monterey Bay Aquarium will extend its hours until 8 pm on Saturdays and Sundays in July and August so that visitors can enjoy a beer and wine bar in the Marine Mammal Hall of the aquarium, dinner at the ocean-side Portola Restaurant (yes, they serve seafood), live jazz, and espresso. Afterwards, wined-and-dined guests can catch an ocean-themed IMAX movie at the new theater next door or visit the temporary jellyfish exhibit, which features graceful flower hat and blue, jellies, among others.

Monterey Bay Aquarium


Moody Gardens

Hurry in this summer to see Sharks in the Depth, an exhibit that explores the anatomy and behavior of sharks through hands-on exhibits. Debunk shark rumors and find out the truth about these powerful creatures and how they adapt to their environment. Admission to this special exhibit is included in the aquarium entrance fee.

Moody Gardens


Newport Aquarium

Frog Bog, which opened Memorial Day weekend, is a special summer exhibit that features many species of frogs in interactive and educational displays that are fun for the whole family. The exhibit is a sensory experience: visitors can listen to frogs singing; play “Frogger” the video game; and experience first-hand amphibian habitat destruction.

Newport Aquarium


Virginia Aquarium

Stop by to check out the Aquarium’s special summer guests: six African penguins on loan from the Baltimore Zoo! The exhibit is interactive and creative, focusing on factors that threaten penguins and their survival adaptations. The penguins stick around until Labor Day.

While you're there, consider a creek cruise, which takes visitors out on a pontoon boat to view Virginia Beach's last undeveloped salt marsh.

Virginia Aquarium


Oregon Aquarium

Oddities abound at the newest exhibit here, which is aptly named Oddwater and which features such strange creatures as the chambered nautilus, the lion fish, and the bridal burrfish. The exhibit is educational, interactive and explanatory; visitors will learn how the nautilus uses jet propulsion and how the lion fish kills its prey. As an artistic touch, the Aquarium placed hand-blown glass pieces inside the tanks to complement the odd creatures.

Oregon Aquarium


Baltimore Aquarium

The brand-new Dolphin Encounter program allows visitors to get personal with bottlenose dolphins and their trainers. The 2 ½ hour encounter includes a hands-on orientation session, access to a dolphin show, and playtime with the stars of the show.

For more excitement, visit the Aquarium during the last week in July, which is Shark Week.

Baltimore Aquarium


Tennessee Aquarium

This summer, visitors to the Tennessee Aquarium have the chance to actually get out on the water: the River Gorge Explorer's 90-minute cruises will take off from the Chattanooga Pier up to five times a day, giving visitors a unique look at the area and its wildlife, which includes whitetail deer, butterflies, osprey, and dolphins.

Tennessee Aquarium


Vancouver Aquarium

There’s lots of new happenings here for the summer, including an interactive Beluga whale show; a butterfly exhibit featuring 8,000 new species such as blue morpho, monarch, owl, zebra and postman butterflies and some new pupae from Costa Rica; and a Birds of Prey talk, featuring the Aquarium’s own rehabilitated great horned owl.

Vancouver Aquarium


ECHO Lake Aquarium & Science Center

Learn more about your body’s remarkable abilities in the What Moves you? Body Language exhibit here on the shores of Lake Champlain in downtown Burlington, Vermont. Visitors can explore the science of movement in this interactive exhibit that brings the laws of physics to life.

ECHO Center


Columbus Zoo & Aquarium

Every Wednesday night of the summer, the Aquarium & Zoo will stay open late for Family Night, featuring changing special programming and fun activities for the whole clan.

Columbus Zoo


Adventure Aquarium

The Camden, New Jersey aquarium has added nine species of sharks to its lineup for the summer. Stop by and check out the juvenile zebra sharks, whose stripes will turn to dots as they grow up. Kids can discover their "inner shark," and everyone will enjoy the shark touch tank.

Adventure Aquarium


New England Aquarium

Pop into this Boston landmark to view the temporary Sharks & Rays exhibit, whose savvy ad campaign took the city's buses by storm this summer. Visit the touch tank to get close to bamboo sharks, coral catsharks, honeycomb rays, and southern stingrays; compare your silhouette to different species of sharks'; and watch an IMAX by Jean-Michel Cousteau about great white, hammerhead and other large, predatory sharks. Finally, learn why sharks are not a human enemy: most attacks are mistakes, and the Aquarium seeks to dispel the myths about sharks as ferocious predators.

New England Aquarium


North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores

Every Thursday in July, the Aquarium extends its hours until 9 p.m., with family-friendly activities. Each week has its own theme, from salamanders and other slimy creatures to Pirate Night and a pottery exhibit. Check the website for schedules of live music and other activities.

North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores