Whether visiting family, compiling a travel itinerary, or just making staycation plans, Georgia’s wealth in aquatic life provides plenty for every traveler. Over six million people residing in this southern center of business, aerospace, film, and music enjoy the diversity in fish and reptiles between its many parks, nature reserves, the mighty Chattahoochee, and the immense efforts of the Georgia Aquarium. Read on for some of our favorite aquarium experiences of The Big Peach.
One of the largest aquariums in The South, The United States, The Western Hemisphere, and the world, the scale of the Georgia Aquarium and its operations cannot be ignored if we are to speak of Atlanta. Over 240 species from the local to the exotic and endangered reside in over 11 million US gallons through multiple intricate exhibits each providing a unique and inspiring look into aquatic habitats from over the world.
Of these exhibits, their rare experiences, and more famous residents, the first is the mammoth Southern Company River Scout, a journey through the rivers of the world. Along this conservation-conscious trek, visitors can see the Alligator Snapping Turtle, Asian Small-Clawed Otter, and the fearsome Piranha in an immersive ninety thousand gallons of water featuring two crawl tunnels. For the more daring, there is also a chance to visit the Glass Bottom Alligator Exhibit- local Alligators on display from an angle that not many get to see (and tell the tale!).
The next exhibit is the Cold Water Quest, home to some of our planet’s most remarkable symbols of Arctic and Temperate waters, such as the Beluga Whale, Giant Pacific Octopus, Japanese Spider Crab, African penguins, and the Weedy Sea Dragon. Here, visitors can sit a while next to the enchanting Kelp Forest, or personally touch some of the animals in a touch pool.
The mammoth Ocean Voyager is also present, the crown jewel of Georgia Aquarium’s empire- a 100-foot underwater tunnel through the world’s largest indoor aquatic habitat of over six million gallons housing Blacktip Reef Sharks, Cownose Rays, Doctorfish, the Goliath Grouper, Longcomb Sawfish, Manta Rays, Spotted Eagle Rays, the Zebra Shark and most notably, the Whale Shark. The Tropical Diver provides a dive into an immersive Indo-Pacific Coral Community, the Dolphin Coast indoor stadium a family of thirteen Bottlenose Dolphins, and the Truist Pier 225 a gang of six personable California Sea Lions.
For travelers who want a more hands-on experience, visitors can swim and dive among the fishes of several exhibits with scuba equipment, tour the behind-the-scenes of the Aquarium or stay after-hours, play with otters and penguins, and for the brave, get into the Shark Cage. (Yes, It is exactly what you imagine.)
Atlanta Area Parks and Institutions
Outside of the world of the Georgia Aquarium, Zoo Atlanta and the Fernbank Science Center also have burgeoning groups of reptiles and aquatic animals, and travelers can venture to the Georgia Wilderness for encounters in the wild. We recommend the Yellow River Park and the Chattahoochee for those looking for an outdoor activity with aquatic wildlife.
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