The Number One Attraction In Georgia

The large array of tanks and viewing windows make Georgia Aquarium one of the best in the world.

The large array of tanks and viewing windows make Georgia Aquarium one of the best in the world.

Going Under The Sea Without Getting Wet | Sharon Henry

Watching fish is scientifically proven to be therapeutic, no matter the size of the tank. Standing behind this massive glass window (19 x8.5 metres) of a six million gallon tank watching manta rays perform back flips and whale sharks glide by is certainly enchanting. Georgia Aquarium (GA) in Atlanta, USA, is one of the world’s largest tanks, housing the world’s largest fish.

Three of Georgia Aquarium's giant whale sharks grabbing the attention of visitors.

Three of Georgia Aquarium’s giant whale sharks grabbing the attention of visitors.

The four whale sharks in here are undoubtedly the star attractions. Glass just two feet thick separates them from the wide eyed youngsters who are clearly amazed by these gentle giants.

The gigantic observation window on the side of the whale shark tank.

The gigantic observation window on the side of the whale shark tank.

Although, I can’t help but feel sad for these confined creatures, as my memory is fresh of swimming with their wild cousins. Just a few months ago we were lucky to swim with whale sharks off the coast of St Helena, those that freely migrate vast oceans to feed and breed within their natural habitat.

However, I do understand the integral role Georgia Aquarium plays in educating and raising awareness of these beautiful creatures. The Aquarium whale sharks have been transported all the way from Taiwan where they were originally destined for the fish market. It is important to note, Taiwan have now banned the killing of whale sharks.

A youngster is captivated by the giant fish at Georgia Aquarium.

A youngster is captivated by the giant fish at Georgia Aquarium.

I also understand and appreciate Georgia Aquarium’s concerted efforts in research and conservation worldwide of these beautiful animals. Including on St Helena where we are only now realising our significant link in whale shark migratory habits.

So knowing this and watching scores of children have the opportunity to see a ‘real life’ whale shark is bittersweet.

I’ve billed whale sharks as Georgia Aquarium’s star attraction but the supporting cast is also pretty spectacular. There are hammerheads, dazzling jelly fish, ferocious piranha, colourful nemos, diving penguins and playful dolphins. The aquarium is split into sections with names like ‘River Scout,’ ‘Tropical Diver’ and ‘Ocean Voyager.’

Georgia Aquarium: Atlantic Sea Nettle display.

Georgia Aquarium: Atlantic Sea Nettle display.

Atlantic Sea Nettle (Chrysaora quinquecirrha) The nettle’s long tentacles sting and capture prey. Food digests in heart-shaped gastric pouches on its underside. Diet: microscopic crustaceans called copepods, zooplankton Range: Western Atlantic from New England to Florida and the Caribbean.

Atlantic Sea Nettle (Chrysaora quinquecirrha)
The nettle’s long tentacles sting and capture prey. Food digests in heart-shaped gastric pouches on its underside.
Diet: microscopic crustaceans called copepods, zooplankton
Range: Western Atlantic from New England to Florida and the Caribbean.

Atlantic Sea Nettle (Chrysaora quinquecirrha) The nettle’s long tentacles sting and capture prey. Food digests in heart-shaped gastric pouches on its underside.

Atlantic Sea Nettle (Chrysaora quinquecirrha)
The nettle’s long tentacles sting and capture prey. Food digests in heart-shaped gastric pouches on its underside.

Common Bottlenose Dolphin The common bottlenose dolphin appears throughout the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. The mammal’s sleek, spindle-shaped body reduces drag as it swims. About every two hours the dolphin sheds its outer skin layer, helping maintain a smooth surface. These adaptations make the bottlenose dolphin an efficient swimmer – it can reach speeds up to 18 miles per hour (29 km/h). Common weight: 485 – 595 lbs (220 – 270kg) Common length: 7.2 – 8.9 feet (2.2 – 2.7m)

Common Bottlenose Dolphins putting on a show for the youngsters outside the tank window.
The common bottlenose dolphin appears throughout the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. The mammal’s sleek, spindle-shaped body reduces drag as it swims. About every two hours the dolphin sheds its outer skin layer, helping maintain a smooth surface. These adaptations make the bottlenose dolphin an efficient swimmer – it can reach speeds up to 18 miles per hour (29 km/h).
Common weight: 485 – 595 lbs (220 – 270kg)
Common length: 7.2 – 8.9 feet (2.2 – 2.7m)

A 'flying' turtle in the River Scout section of the Georgia Aquarium.

A ‘flying’ turtle in the River Scout section of the Georgia Aquarium.

Information boards line the exhibits giving details about the fish on display, their origins and factual titbits like; sharks do not sleep like we do, instead they have active and restful periods. They have to swim constantly to move water over their gills to breathe.

Unfortunately the beluga whale section was temporarily closed during our visit because of the illness and eventual death of one of the calves.

Inside the main hall of the Georgia Aquarium with different exhibits branching off in all directions.

Inside the main hall of the Georgia Aquarium with different exhibits branching off in all directions.

Touring through the 'River Scout' exhibits.

Touring through the ‘River Scout’ exhibits.

Weedy Sea Dragons.  The “tail” of a Sea Dragon... The male will carry the eggs on his tail until hatching. Getting lost in the crowd is easy when you look like seaweed.

Weedy Sea Dragons.
The “tail” of a Sea Dragon…  The male will carry the eggs on his tail until hatching.
Getting lost in the crowd is easy when you look like seaweed.

The Penguins of the World display.

The Penguins of the World.

Penguins inside the 'Cold Water Quest' exhibit.

Penguins inside the ‘Cold Water Quest’ exhibit.

Taking the glass tunnel stroll under the Aquarium fish.

Taking the glass tunnel stroll under the Aquarium fish.

Red Piranha – Pygocentrus nattereri Range: Amazon river basin and northeastern South America. Diet: insects, worms and fish Maximum size: 13” (33.3cm) Lean in close to see their teeth. They’re as sharp as they look – and powered by strong, fast jaws. A piranha can snap its teeth shut so fast, the other fish don’t stand a chance.

Red Piranha – (Pygocentrus nattereri)
Range: Amazon river basin and northeastern South America. Diet: insects, worms and fish – Maximum size: 13” (33.3cm) – Lean in close to see their teeth. They’re as sharp as they look – and powered by strong, fast jaws. A piranha can snap its teeth shut so fast, the other fish don’t stand a chance.

Another of the huge, panoramic displays which captivates both young and old visitors.

Another of the huge, panoramic displays which captivates both young and old visitors.

Sharks are always a popular sighting in the Aquarium.

Sharks are always a popular sighting in the Aquarium.

We visited Georgia Aquarium using the Atlanta CityPass with included World of Coca-Cola and Inside CNN along with other attractions for the price of $73.25 + tax.

For us this was definitely an excellent attraction; highly recommended.

For us this was definitely an excellent attraction; highly recommended.

Out front of the Aquarium is a tribute presented by Billi and Bernie Marcus, owners of Home Depot. The message inscribed reads: ‘We know the Home Depot would not have achieved its full potential without the incredible support of the citizens of Georgia, including customers, associates and stakeholders. This is why we want to give back to this great community a gift that reaches as many different lives as possible – young and old, male and female, those who will visit for entertainment and those who will visit for education. Here stands our gift.’

What a wonderful legacy.

The Georgia Aquarium in Downtown Atlanta.

The Georgia Aquarium in Downtown Atlanta.

4 thoughts on “The Number One Attraction In Georgia

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s