AAA Editor Notes
National Aquarium is on Inner Harbor Piers 3 and 4 at 501 E. Pratt St. The aquarium displays a collection of more than 20,000 marine and freshwater animals representing more than 700 species from around the world. Blacktip Reef in the aquarium's five-level main structure at Pier 3 replicates an Indo-Pacific reef and features such open ocean denizens as sharks and rays. Maryland: Mountains to the Sea on the next level displays bullfrogs, diamondback terrapins, blue crabs and other native species.

Living Seashore, an interactive exhibit on level 3, offers guests a glimpse of the Mid-Atlantic seashore where visitors can touch an Atlantic stingray, a horseshoe crab and a moon jelly. Surviving Through Adaptation, a multi-exhibit gallery on level 3, features such diverse creatures as the electric eel, the giant Pacific octopus (often hard to spot due to its shy and retiring nature) and the curious-looking longhorn cowfish, a box-shaped tropical reef dweller. On level 4 you'll see the Amazon River Forest tributary exhibit, which features species indigenous to the tropical jungle, including dwarf caimans, emerald tree boas and exotic fish.

The Upland Tropical Rain Forest habitat on level 5 reverberates with the warblings and screeches of birds native to tropical jungles (and more often heard than seen). Visitors can also view two-toed sloths and tamarin monkeys. Australia: Wild Extremes, in the Glass Pavilion, represents Australia's northern outback and exhibits pig-nosed turtles, freshwater crocodiles, flying foxes and finches, among other wildlife.

Dolphin Discovery, at the Pier 4 Pavilion, features Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. Visitors learn about the daily life of a dolphin and can chat with marine mammal experts. Also located in Pier 4 is the Children's Discovery Gallery and Jellies Invasion, showcasing tentacle-trailing jellyfish.

The 4-D Immersion Theater combines sight, smell and sound with 3-D film technology. Such effects as bubbles, steam, wind, vibrating seats and mist are timed to correspond with the action taking place on the 3-D screen. Dives, animal feedings and live encounters take place daily; schedules are posted in the building. Behind-the-scenes tours and an audio cellphone tour are offered.

Note: Admission is by timed-ticket entry. Purchasing tickets in advance guarantees a specific entry time. The least-crowded times to visit are on weekdays or before 11 or after 3 on weekends and holidays. Same-day re-entry is permitted with a hand stamp. Strollers must be checked, but backpack child carriers are provided.

Guided tours are available. Food is available.

$39.95; $24.95 (ages 3-11). 4-D theater additional $5. Prices may vary; phone ahead to confirm rates.
Hours vary seasonally but are generally Sun.-Thurs. 9-5, Fri. 9-8, Sat. 9-6. Phone ahead to confirm schedule and extended hours. The aquarium remains open 1.5 hours after the last ticket is sold. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas. Allow 2 hours, 30 minutes minimum.
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