Exploring the largest aquarium in the Western Hemisphere

Life for us software engineers can be tough sometimes which is why this company sponsored (field) trip was a perfect breather for a tough week’s work. All my fellow expats were quite stoked to get together and pay a visit to our aquatic friends.

NCR employees of to Georgia Aquarium

Weather in the last few weeks has always been gloomy but this doesn’t bother us since we spent most of our time inside a 51,000 square meters covered space. Yes, it is THAT big! I’m getting ahead of myself but the parking area is also so massive that we actually got lost on our way back.

Georgia-Aquarium

I had always wanted to visit Georgia Aquarium since I arrived in Atlanta but I was actually dodging the steep fees. Instead, I just wandered around the neighboring attractions to visit CNN Headquarters, World of Coca Cola and the Olympic Park.

If you plan to visit Georgia Aquarium, I suggest you purchase online and get discounted tickets. You can save money and time by buying online, printing your tickets at home and bypassing the ticketing lines. General admission is their basic admission ticket which gets you access to all of the Aquarium’s public exhibits, shows and galleries. Plus, $1 from every General Admission goes towards Georgia Aquarium’s research and conservation efforts.

Our admin staffs had pre-purchased our tickets so we had a smooth entry to the aquarium (translation: no queues). After a short briefing, we parted ways and independently explored what Georgia Aquarium has to offer.

The aquarium’s animals are displayed in five galleries: Tropical Diver, Ocean Voyager, Cold Water Quest, River Scout, and Dolphin Tales. Each corresponds to a specific environment.

RIVER SCOUT

The first exhibit, Southern Company River Scout, reflects regional environments. It features an overhead river where visitors can see North American fish from the bottom up. In addition to local specimens, this exhibit displays piranha, electric fish and other unusual freshwater life.

River Scout

River Scout 2

DOLPHIN TALES

Next to River Scout is the AT&T Dolphin Tales gallery. This is the aquarium’s newest addition (opened in April 2011) and houses the indoor dolphin stadium. The aquarium houses thirteen bottlenose dolphins, though this number fluctuates from time to time.

Dolphin Tale

The show lasts about 30 minutes and includes an informative/educational videos about the dolphins 30 minutes before the show.

No photography was allowed during the show to avoid distracting the dolphins so the picture above was all I had for this section of the aquarium.

COLD WATER QUEST

The third section of the aquarium, Georgia Pacific Cold Water Quest, features animals from the polar and temperate regions of the world and contains most of the mammal species in the aquarium’s collection. This exhibit includes beluga whales in the aquarium’s second largest habitat (after Ocean Voyager), sea otters, Japanese spider crabs, weedy sea dragons, and African penguins.

Cold Water Quest

Cold Water Quest 2

Cold Water Quest 3

Cold Water Quest 4

OCEAN VOYAGER

The largest exhibit, Ocean Voyager built by Home Depot, contains 6.3 million US gallons (24,000 m3) of water and several thousand fish.

Ocean Voyager

This exhibit is designed to feature the life of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System and showcases the aquarium’s whale sharks, as well as a 100 ft (30 m) underwater tunnel and one of the world’s largest viewing windows.

Ocean Voyager 2

Ocean Voyager 3

Ocean Voyager 4

TROPICAL DIVER

The fifth exhibit, Tropical Diver presented by Southwest Airlines, features mainly Indo-Pacific tropical fish. The largest habitat in the exhibit is a 164,000-US-gallon (620,000 L) reef featuring many species of fish.

Tropical Diver

The aquarium also cultivates its own live coral, some of which can be seen on this large reef. Other animals in this gallery include sea horses, garden eels, jellyfish, clownfish, shrimp, lobsters, turkeyfish, and many other tropical fishes.

Tropical Diver 2

Tropical Diver 3

DEEPO’S UNDERSEA 4D WONDERSHOW

This 4D show (surprisingly, I was the only one in our bunch to have seen) was totally fun! I am a sucker for 4D shows and that one in World of Coca Cola was just as fun. It is like experiencing the underwater world from the point of view of our marine friends.

So, what’s 4D?

“The 4D Theater is one of the most advanced in the world, employing interactive seats and unique special effects that are built into the theater itself. By creating a set of “4D” effects that are synchronized to the film production, the 4D Theater adds another layer of immersive fun for audiences.”

Have you been to Georgia Aquarium? Which exhibit did you like the most? Let me know in the comments. Cheers!

Sarah-Signature

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