With heavy snow still covering many parts of the Jersey Shore from a series of wicked winter storms, I tried to gladden my spirits from overlooking a predominantly lifeless landscape by heading down to Atlantic City. No, not to the casinos. Instead, with sunny skies and temperatures reaching up around 50 degrees, it was a beautiful day to go out and check out the Atlantic City Aquarium.
Yes, amid all the hotels, casinos, shows, and storefronts, there exists an aquarium in Atlantic City. Okay, so it is not a huge aquarium, but it is a very enjoyable place to spend a few hours to see, touch, and discover the many sea creatures found throughout the Jersey Shore, the Mid-Atlantic Ocean, and around the world.
The Atlantic City Aquarium has a relaxed and laid back atmosphere, which lends itself to spending some quality time there. The place houses more than 100 species of fish and other marine creatures. Visitors can have a close-up look at Giant Moray Eels, jellyfish, a coral reef and much more. At the 750-gallon Touch Tank, visitors can have a unique opportunity to interact with crabs, sea stars, sea urchins, small sharks, and many other small scale inhabitants of the ocean, touching a variety of local invertebrates as well as other beach residents.
(Dive and Dine time features the aquarium’s diver in a 25,000 gallon tank feeding the animals. Audiences can watch and interact with the diver)
If you go, make sure to call ahead to get a schedule when a diver is in tank. This is perhaps the coolest event inside the aquarium. A lone diver actually goes inside a 23,000-gallon tank with sea turtles, sharks, rays, and other species of fish to feed the animals. With a microphone and speakers ready, the diver is able to talk to the public while feeding the fish, and even take and answer questions from the public. This is pretty neat!
(Welcome to the Atlantic City Aquarium!)
Another cool event is feeding time in their 900 gallon shark and ray touch tank. On the second floor, the public is able to meet two types of rays, cownose and southern, along with sometimes young bamboo sharks. The public is then invited to feed the sharks and rays with their bare hands. It is a good thing that these are friendly creatures to humans!
(Come see a Loggerhead Sea Turtle! Loggerheads were named for their relatively large heads, which support powerful jaws and enable them to feed on hard-shelled prey, such as whelks and conch.)
The Atlantic City Aquarium also devotes displays to freshwater and estuarine marine life as well as habitats featuring Diamondback Terrapins, and various species found in the Mullica River. Additionally, there are exotic animals present, such as a boa constrictor, emperor scorpions, piranhas, and various tropical reptiles. Personally, I loved the jellyfish tank!
(One tank is home to 6 different species of clownfish including Ocellaris (Nemo), Clarkii, Maroon, and Tomato clowns. There are also symbiotic long tentacle and bubble tip anemones.)
Up on the third floor, there are great views of the Atlantic City area, including the Absecon Inlet and Brigantine! There is also a nice exhibit on the history of diving with actual antique diving equipment on display. The top floor is a pleasant, quiet, little area to catch your breath, relax and enjoy an exclusive view of this part of the Jersey Shore.
The Atlantic City Aquarium is located at Historic Gardner's Basin, home to fishing boats, restaurants, craft stores, and shops, though during the winter many shops and restaurants are closed for the season. The aquarium is situated at the northern end of the barrier island, near the Absecon Inlet. It is easy to find and the price of admission is reasonable.
(People have the opportunity to touch some sharks and juvenile rays. These include White Spotted bamboo sharks.)
So if you are seeking something to do to beat back the winter blues, why not spend a few hours at the Atlantic City Aquarium. I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised by this place. You will both be entertained and discover some amazing information about our great blue planet. Make sure to bring your camera!
For more information on the Atlantic City Aquarium, please check out their website at: http://www.acaquarium.com/default.asp