Because we are headed to Disneyland next week, we decided to hang tight and stay put for Spring Break week. This weekend, we were invited back to the Georgia Aquarium to see what all was going on for Spring Break and for a little behind the scenes action known as their “behind the seas” tour. I don’t know why, but behind the scenes makes me feel like I know all of the secrets (even though, they aren’t hiding anything) and makes me appreciate everything going on even more.
Lest we forget, I had to get a mommy and me picture. The idea of a picture with four girls looking at the camera, or smiling, or looking happy all simultaneously? Left the building. So, now I look for the picture where I look the best. Let’s just be honest!
Of course, daddy gets all the good looks (I think it’s because I’m willing to go the extra mile while holding a camera!)
Behind the scenes we got to check out the giant tank with the reef and colorful fish (aka Tropical Diver). This giant wall of water goes every 2 minutes or so and generates a huge wave below. We didn’t expect it at all and everybody sort of jumped back as it happened.
Off to the back there were other fish hanging out in the shallower water, just asking for their pictures to be taken. With three girls talking, our wonderful tour guide had her hands full with the questions. She answered every one of them with a smile!
We didn’t get to see the quarantine area (because of possible infections, bacteria and more), but we were able to take a peak into one of the many tanks where they were growing coral. It’s amazing how many different varieties there are.
There were so many classrooms and educational rooms set up with different learning experiences. There were teeny-tiny shrimp, jellyfish, starfish and more. All for the learning labs.
Our next stop was Ocean Voyager where the amazing Whale Sharks and Manta Rays live. They seem huge looking through the glass of the aquarium, but oh goodness, when they get that close to you? They are amazing and breath-taking. We stood behind a glass barricade (thank goodness, or else I would have worried somebody might have decided to go for a swim. Not that this is a bad thing. People go diving into the Ocean Voyager. There were people going in while we were there).
That’s a whale shark (not really a whale, actually a shark) that eats plankton, not little people. They are so amazingly large and majestic. Just wow. The Manta Ray hung by close to the whale shark but kept eluding my camera. Something fascinating we learned? They have no idea how whale sharks reproduce. And, they have only recently ever seen a smaller (as in not full-size) whale shark. They are a bit of a puzzling creature for sure.
Just in case you didn’t believe me. That outside painting? That’s the size of the manta ray, which was dwarfed in comparison by the whale shark.
Every sort of water creature you can imagine lives at the aquarium. At least at some point. This tank was full of the most colorful and beautiful frogs. Which turns out, are only poisonous if they eat poisonous plants, which these didn’t have access to.
They do so much rescue and rehab at the aquarium, too. And, learning. I loved seeing the bottom of this starfish with his little suckers all extended.
And a place for the kids to learn about symbiosis. (That’s Roz on the right. She was our volunteer tour guide. So fabulous!)
These guys had to be in a picture. I put my hand there for scale. Giant starfish. See that mussel shell? Yep, they eat those. And, they appear to be quite lazy too. They just lay there. In a pile on top of each other. Lazy, lazy starfish. I guess when you project your stomach outside of your body to eat you need to take a long break?
My favorite part of the aquarium is visiting the beluga whales. So it was super cool to be able to see them behind the scenes. We weren’t able to go into the room with them, but were pretty close. And, they came up to the surface quite a bit.
This is an aquarium operating room. It looks a lot like a human operating room. However, a lot of their equipment is on wheels so they can bring it to the animals.
We also saw the laboratory facilities, and my heart jumped a little seeing the Analytical Chemistry section (that’s what my Master’s Degree is in!). They had spaces set up for water quality testing and so much more.
Our last stop was to check on the baby penguins. They weren’t as tiny as I was expecting, but still pretty cute. Turns out these little guys weren’t interested in swimming just yet. I guess they needed some swimming lessons.
The Georgia Aquarium has recently made “behind the seas” tours much more affordable. You will need to purchase your admission ticket, but once you do, the tour is an additional $15 per person (or $12.50 if you are an Aquarium pass holder)
The Aquarium is a great place to check out any time of year, including Spring Break. They’ve put together a great list of tips and resources to help you maximize your trip during Spring Break (or any other time of the year!)
- Engage them with education before your trip….at home!
- Get your family excited about a trip by visiting the attraction’s website to explore activities that you can print out and do together.
- Everybody loves coming to the Aquarium, but there’s a way to wiggle in education. Harness that excitement and put it towards a learning experience before you arrive. Kids Corner is a different way to approach the trip and make it a learning experience.
- Use tools to plan.
- Build your experience beforehand to maximize your time at the attraction. Most attractions have an interactive webpage to help make planning your visit a seamless process. The Aquarium’s Plan Your Visit page helps youresearch the experiences the Aquarium has to offer and make ticket, parking and add-on program purchases.
- Take tips from tourism experts
- Pay for parking online ahead of time.
- Tuesday and Wednesday mornings are the least crowded times.
- Visit early or late in the day to avoid the busiest times.
- Plan your visit around free activities offered throughout the day.
- AT&T Dolphin Tales: choose your seats no later than 20 minutes before the show, the best seats in the house are at the top of the lower half section.
- Interactive Dive Shows : Tropical Diver and Ocean Voyager galleries have divers that answer visitors questions while underwater
- Animal Feedings: Check out computer screens outside each gallery with daily feeding times for marquee animals.
- Have a hands-free experience
- Give your technology a break and live in the moment. You can still manage to capture the memories by taking fewer but more impactful photos.
- Georgia Aquarium provides a beautiful backdrop for photos that are perfect to help your social network follow your trip
- “One For the Grandparents”: the Pacific Barrier Reef Window inside the Tropical Diver gallery has great lighting and livens up your photo with colorful fish.
- “Look Where I Am”: Off Baker Street Entrance, just near the newspaper stand, you can capture the full Georgia Aquarium façade.
- “The Perfect Silhouette”: It is no surprise Ocean Voyager provides an artistic backdrop for a photo; many movies have chosen this gallery to feature in their films.
- “Just Another Fish in the Sea”: Many of the exhibits feature windows where children can get up close and almost look as if they are inside with some of their favorite animals. Try making a scary face inside our Piranha exhibit in River Scout!
- “Bird’s Eye View”: Make a pit stop after you exit Cold Water Quest, to capture the World’s Most Magical Aquarium from a second floor vantage point.
- Make the most of family time.
- Break out the map – make the most of your visit by researching which “must-see” locations are close. Planning ahead will help minimize parking fees and reduce travel time.
- Conveniently located in downtown Atlanta, Georgia Aquarium is the perfect starting point for a day filled with family fun. There are 6 hotels, 5 (soon to be 7!) attractions and 17 restaurants all within a 12-minute walk from the front door of Georgia Aquarium.
I try to make sure and visit all of you and leave some comment love. Please spread the love! And, I never mind the comments, either:)