AAA Editor Notes
Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is 1 mi. s. of the Rudee Inlet Bridge at 717 General Booth Blvd. More than 10,000 animals can be seen in hands-on exhibits and a multitude of aquariums which spotlight Virginia's marine environment. The attraction's pavilions—the Bay & Ocean Pavilion and the Marsh Pavilion—are separated by a .3-mile nature path.
The Bay & Ocean Pavilion is the center's main building. Here you'll find The Journey of Water exhibit, which traces the progression of water as it crosses the state. The immense Norfolk Canyon Aquarium, the state's largest, introduces you to the creatures typically found there, including three types of sharks and several varieties of rays.
Restless Planet showcases four habitats that simulate periods in Virginia's early history, hundreds of millions of years ago. Begin in Indonesia's volcanic Flores Island complete with Komodo dragons and colorful finches. Move on to the Coastal Sahara Desert and you can view sea horses, scorpions, hedgehogs and a cobra snake. The Red Sea tunnel aquarium features tropical fish as well as spotted eagle rays and a zebra shark. End in the humid Malaysian Peat Swamp where guests can see crocodiles, frogs, turtles and snakehead fish.
In addition to a variety of fish, the Chesapeake Light Tower Aquarium is home to loggerhead, green and the critically endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtles. Another pavilion highlight is a National Geographic 3-D theater presenting educational films and Hollywood releases.
The Owls Creek Nature Path skirts the edge of Owls Creek and leads to the Marsh Pavilion. The scenic 10-minute walk showcases plants and fauna native to Virginia and also features a 30-foot observation tower. Also on the path is the new Adventure Park at Virginia Aquarium, a zipline and aerial course in the Owls Creek marshlands.
The Marsh Pavilion includes a river otter habitat and other marsh animal exhibits as well as a children's play corner. Just behind the pavilion, an outdoor aviary features more than 70 birds, including herons, pelicans, egrets and ducks.
A 65-foot catamaran, the Atlantic Explorer, is located on the property and offers seasonal excursions. Whales & Wildlife, Dolphin Discoveries and Ocean Collections Sea Adventures are manned by educators eager to answer questions and share details about the aquarium’s ongoing research and conservation efforts.
Guided tours are available. Food is available. Time: Allow 3 hours minimum.