Watching fish is scientifically proven to be therapeutic, no matter the size of the tank. Standing in front of this massive glass window (19 x 8.5 metres) of a six-million-gallon tank, watching manta rays perform back flips and the famous Georgia Aquarium whale sharks glide by is certainly enchanting. Visiting Atlanta and seeing the world’s biggest aquarium tank, home to the world’s largest fish is certainly a big ‘wow’ moment.
Under The Atlanta Sea – by Sharon Henry
Cost Of The Largest Aquarium in the World
Georgia Aquarium tickets are available at the door, but we were using the Atlanta CityPass which included World of Coca-Cola and Inside CNN, along with other attractions for the price of $73.25 + tax.
However, if you were just on a one-off visit the Georgia Aquarium price of admission (info updated 2018) varies from $30.95 before 11am, to $26.95 after 4pm, these rates for everyone.
Between the peak hours of 11am – 4pm, it’s different – $31.95 for adults, $27.95 for children and $29.95 for seniors. These are online prices if you purchase in advance.
The Georgia Aquarium hours of opening vary between 8am – 9pm, it’s worth checking in advance. But it’s interesting to note the aquarium is open 365 days a year!
Great value, for sure. It’s also good to know you can enjoy a lot of this city without spending a cent, as the Travelling Pinoys detailed with this great list of free things to do in Atlanta.
Whale Sharks at Georgia Aquarium
The Atlanta aquarium whale shark population is four, and they 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. It’s no surprise promotional Georgia Aquarium photos are dominated by whale sharks.
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 ones freely migrate vast oceans to feed and breed within their natural habitat.
However, I do understand the integral role the Atlanta 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.
Don’t Forget The Supporting Cast
I also understand and appreciate concerted efforts by the aquarium in Atlanta in research and conservation worldwide of these beautiful animals. This includes on St Helena where we are only now realising our significant link in whale shark migratory habits.
So, with this in mind and watching scores of children delighted at the opportunity to see a ‘real life’ whale shark is bittersweet.
I’ve billed whale sharks as the star attraction but the supporting cast is also pretty spectacular. There are also hammerheads, dazzling jelly fish, ferocious piranha, colourful Nemos, diving penguins and playful dolphins, to name just a few. The Georgia Aquarium exhibits have intriguing names like ‘River Scout,’ ‘Tropical Diver’ and ‘Ocean Voyager.’
Dolphin Show at Georgia Aquarium
The common bottlenose dolphin which appears throughout the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, are always popular with young visitors.
The Georgia Aquarium ticket price includes access to the AT&T Dolphin Celebration show. The trainers weave an educational theme into an entertaining show that demonstrates the creatures’ intelligence and agility.
Seating is on a first come, first served basis. But, for anyone who’s never seen this animal up-close, the Georgia Aquarium dolphin show is not to be missed.
Fun common bottlenose dolphin facts:
- 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)
Funny Thing About Sharks…
Interesting facts like this are displayed on information boards throughout the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta giving details about the fish on display, their origins and other fascinating titbits. For instance, did you know, 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 Georgia Aquarium beluga whale section was temporarily closed during our visit because of the illness and eventual death of one of the calves.
Big Aquariums Around The World
How does visiting Atlanta Georgia compare to the rest of the world’s aquariums?
The title of biggest aquarium in the world generates plenty of debate.
From a little research we can see there are other bigger aquarium complexes in the world, mostly in Asia. However, using a single tank size as the determining factor, Georgia Aquarium comes out on top.
Georgia Aquarium Atlanta For A Great Day Out
How Georgia Aquarium Came To Atlanta
Out front of the Georgia 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.