AAA Editor Notes
Georgia Aquarium is downtown at 225 Baker St., across from Centennial Olympic Park (MARTA: CNN Center or Peachtree Center stations). Where can you view a 24-foot-long whale shark, interact with a horseshoe crab or come face to face with creatures that bear a passing resemblance to Jar Jar Binks? The Georgia Aquarium, that's where. Its seven major exhibit galleries contain more than 10 million gallons of water and showcase a fascinating variety of marine life.
Ocean Voyager accommodates four whale sharks—the world's largest fish—along with sharks, Goliath groupers, stingrays, schools of trevally jacks and four manta rays, the only manta rays on display in a U.S. aquarium. Stand in front of the enormous viewing window or walk through a cool acrylic tunnel.
The Dolphin Tales gallery, theater and show is dedicated to creating memorable connections between humans and animals and allows guests to get an up-close look at the naturally playful behaviors of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins.
Tropical Diver boasts a living reef inhabited by thousands of colorful reef fish. Exhibits display seahorses, fairy basslets, jawfish, jellyfish, cuttlefish (not a fish but a mollusk, and the aquarium resident that fits the Jar Jar comparison) and other interesting creatures. A wave machine simulating surf conditions operates above the reef. Cold Water Quest features harbor seals, sea otters, sea stars, anemones, a penguin habitat and white, rubbery-looking but lovable beluga whales, found in Arctic and sub-Arctic regions like Alaska, Russia and Greenland.
Electric eels, an emerald tree boa, African cichlids, albino American alligators and a tank of red piranhas are among the animals on display at River Scout, a freshwater gallery. Asian small-clawed otters energetically chase each other through the water, aided by feet that are partially webbed.
Visitors can learn about aquatic life in Aquanaut Adventure: A Discovery Zone, an interactive exhibit for all ages. Pier 225 features California sea lions, and trainer interaction sessions take place throughout the day.
There's more. The 4-D Theater combines digital projection, high-definition 3-D film and special effects in “Happy Feet,” a multi-sensory experience about Mumble and the other emperor penguins in the Antarctic. For an insider's perspective of the exhibit galleries, take one of the Behind the Scenes Tours. Animal encounter programs also allow visitors to have an up-close experience with dolphins, sea otters or penguins or to swim or dive with whale sharks.
Check the schedule for fish feedings; it's quite a sight to watch all of the exhibit's inhabitants swarm when little pieces of cut-up fish are dumped into the water. The whale sharks are fed a separate meal of small crustaceans and squid, since they strain their food from the water with their gills.
Note: All tickets are non-refundable. Visitors are not permitted to bring food, beverages or gum inside. Food is available until 1 hour before closing.
Guided tours are available. Food is available. Time: Allow 5 hours minimum.