Detroit. Famous for its historical presence in music, manufacturing, sport, and commerce, The Motor City would appear to have it all, and this is also true for aquatic life. Visitors, hometown returnees, and locals alike will find an inspiring diversity of aquatic life both in the waters surrounding and in a number of institutions around the city. Read on for some of our favorite aquariums around Detroit.
Sea Life Michigan
Sea Life Michigan is a great option for travelers of all ages and interests to immerse themselves in a world of over 250 species among 2,000 animals, with a wealth of unique exhibits and experiences. The Shipwreck Exhibit features a community of colorful coral and tropical fishes who’ve taken up residence in the remains of a sunken pirate ship, a cast of characters including the grumpy lionfish, mysterious wolf eel, and a famously extroverted porcupine pufferfish. Visitors can also watch the stingrays swim about, touch a variety of tidal species, surround themselves with a school of fish, or walk under an enchanting 125,000 gallons of marine life in the ocean tunnel. Keeper talks and Q&A sessions about the lives and care of the animals occur regularly, and behind-the-scenes tours are available by appointment.
Belle Isle Aquarium
The Belle Isle Aquarium is a charming green-tiled step back in time, a nod to the heyday of Detroit’s car manufacturing era and the wildlife of Detroit’s local waters. Located on tranquil Belle Isle, visitors can stroll through a gallery of live species representative of the Great Lakes, and exotic catches from around the world. The layout of the institution remains much as it was over a century ago, from its founding in 1904. Aside from the delightful setting and opportunity to meet many of Detroit’s aquatic denizens, another great feature of the Belle Isle Aquarium is its proximity to a number of parks. The small scale of the island means a variety of activities and the ability to tour nature in the aquarium as well as outdoors in a timely manner.
While not specifically an aquarium, the work the Detroit Zoological Society has done to protect and display aquatic animals cannot go unmentioned. A formidable list of aquatic icons resides here, including the African spurred tortoise, axolotl, beaver, Chinese alligator, otter, and the mighty polar bear. If you are wondering about the penguins, you’re in luck. The Polk Penguin Conservation Center is a 326,000 gallon mission by the Detroit Zoological Society in honour of the lovable penguin, and currently is home to over 75 Southern rockhoppers, macaronis, kings, and gentoo penguins. That is to say, the Detroit Zoo loved penguins so much they have their own corner of the zoo dedicated entirely to their care, education, and lovable antics. Aside from the star-studded list of residents, the Detroit Zoo also has a number of community and private events, such as feeding the penguins, behind-the-scenes tours, and group activities such as Sundown and Yoga in the Zoo.
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