Published: October 29th 2011October 16th 2011
I had a business trip in Atlanta, and I figured "why not come in a day early and see the Georgia Aquarium". Ok, I was curious about Whale Sharks, and really wanted to get up, close, and personal with one. I checked out their website and I was hooked. I quickly added this to my bucket list, and mulled over what activities I wanted to do while at the aquarium. Too, I was curious as to what a place with over 8 million gallons of water would be like!
Getting to the aquarium was easy, I took the Marta from my hotel. I had to walk about 3 blocks from the Marta station to the aquarium. The Marta was crowded since Atlanta Falcon fans were going to their football game. Lucky me, I knew the aquarium would be less crowded as more folks would be at the game.
Once there, I mulled over the activities which included: behind the scenes tour; an interaction with Beluga Whales; and swimming with the Whale Sharks. I decided to do a behind the scenes tour, I was curious about what made this place "tick".
First things first, once I got there. It
Behind the scenes - take 2
Some pretty good sized pieces of equipment
was time to eat, so I had a hamburger, fries, fresh fruit and drink. All came to $10 which for eating at a touristy place is not a bad price. Don't expect a 5 star restaurant there, but the food is more than adequate.
After eating, I went on my "behind the scenes tour". I'm really glad I went on this tour. While I was excited to see the fish and wild life, it's just as interesting to see what keeps this aquarium going 24/7.
On this tour we got to see the equipment that pumps the water and keeps it circulating. Without this, life in the water cannot be sustained. It was unbelievable how big some of the pieces of equipment is, that operates behind the scenes.
Next was a tour of the hospital/veterinarian area. In some cases, they have to do medical procedures in the water as the animals such as the Whale Sharks would be too big to put on the operating room table.
Onward to the food prep area. Some of the freezers are 33 feet in depth. It was amazing to see the amount of food stored in this area.
All I can say is the wave maker made a big splash.
Upstairs, we got to visit the top of a live coral reef exhibit where we saw tropical waters and a mangrove forest. The mangrove forest brought back memories of my kayaking experience through the mangroves in Bonaire. The mangroves are so important, as they are considered the "nursery" of our ocean critters.
The grand "finale" of the behind the scenes tour was the view at the top of the largest ocean exhibit in North America (Ocean Voyager, built by The Home Depot), and observe the largest fish in the world, the whale shark, as it swam below me.
I couldn't wait to get to the Ocean Voyager to see the Sharks, Whale Sharks, Manta Rays, Sting Rays, and other fish. What I loved about this exhibit is I did feel like I was up, close, and personal with the marine life, only separated by a thick pane of glass. I did get some goose bumps the first time one of the four Whale Sharks swam over my head! To see the Manta Rays dive backwards in the water was nothing short of spectacular! I would say that this was one of my favorite displays! Also in this display
The mouth of a Whale Shark - the largest fish in the world.
were Sharks of all type (except I didn't see any of the Great Whites); Groupers; Rays; Wrasse; and other fish.
The next display I went to was Coldwater Quest. Here, I was able to see the Austrailan Weedy Sea Dragon; Beluga Whales; Giant Pacific Octopus; Southern Sea Otters, and Japanese Spider Crabs. The Weedy Sea Dragons are quite fascinating, a bit like a Sea Horse. Next to this exhibit were some African Penguins.
Another display is River Scout, here you'll see life from South America, the rivers of Africa, Asia, and even in Georgia. One of my favorites was the Albino Alligator.
Onward to the Tropical Diver display. I felt like I was inside of an aquarium with hundreds of reef fish. Even saw some Sea Horses, Starfish; Garden Eels, and even "Nemo". Last but not least, Jellyfish.
One of my last stops was the Georgia Explorer display, there I saw horseshoe crabs, sea stars, stingrays and shrimp. I'd never seen a Horseshoe Crab before, they are rather odd looking.
I was at the Georgia Aquarium for a good part of the day. There's so much to see and do, you can't get bored. There
Whale Shark and Manta Ray
is one "genius" thing they thought of when people exit the Aquarium. You have to go through the gift shop to exit the Georgia Aquarium!
If you get to Atlanta, add this to your "to do" list, you won't be disappointed.
There are more photos below