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.
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.
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.
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.’
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.
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.
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.