I love visiting zoos and aquariums — at least most of them. I believe they offer an excellent chance for people to see and study our planet’s fellow inhabitants, and that they are one of the most important conservation tools available to us. People are much more likely to conserve animals and ecosystems they have an emotional tie to. As a life-long student of biology and nature, I always find something new and fun everytime I go.
Boston’s New England Aquarium, while far from the biggest or best, is a nice place to spend a day with a family. It is a popular tourist destination, hosting more than a million visitors each year. Besides the aquatic attractions within the Aquarium building, it is affiliated with an IMAX theatre and a Whale Watch organization.
The Aquarium itself has many nicely displayed and interesting exhibits, which include:
The Giant Ocean Tank: Situated in the center of the main building and viewable from different perspectives on a ramp that spirals as it ascends around and to the top of this cylindrical 200,000 gallon (760,000 liter) tank. The tank has a Caribbean coral reef theme and features sharks, barracuda, giant turtles, stingrays and many smaller fish.
Penguin exhibit: Around the base of the Ocean tank is a large penguin exhibit, which I found to be the most popular with the school groups touring through the Aquarium when I visited. Several species of penguins live on rock islands of the Aquarium and all of them enjoy rocketing through the aquatic environment of the tank. Feeding time is especially fun!
A giant whale skeleton hangs over part of the penguin tank.
The Freshwater Gallery focuses on river habitats in South America and has a comparable New England river system tank. You’ll see species as diverse as piranha, tiny poison dart tree frogs, sea dragons, and thousands of fish too numerous to list.
The Northern Waters of the World gallery focuses on New England marine habitats compared to Pacific Northwest aquatic environments. The gallery features shorebirds, lobsters, octopus and other invertebrates.
The Edge of the Sea tide pool affords visitors a chance to touch local tide pool inhabitants such as sea stars, sea urchins and crabs.
The Tropical Gallery features many colorful tropical fish, cuttlefish, venomous fish and living corals.:
There is a fun jellyfish exhibit, always interesting to watch and semi-hypnotic, and alongside the harbor is a seal and seal lion exhibit abutting the harbor. All in all, a fun time for everyone interested in underwater life, science, and with a sense of wonder of the natural world. Very recommended.
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