Thursday, July 3, 2014

Exploring Life Under the Sea at the National Aquarium

As I was planning our trip in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, I discovered that a marvelous aquarium was located in the Inner Harbor area of Baltimore.   Our family loves all kind of animals but visiting an aquarium would definitively be something different.  So on the day of my son’s 13th birthday we drove to Baltimore in order to visit the National Aquarium.    The National Aquarium opened in August 1981.  It holds more than 8,300,000 liters of water and has over 17,000 specimens from 750 species.  


In reality the aquarium consists of three buildings with different exhibits that you could visit.   The time spent at the National Aquarium will all depends of your own pace – we took about 3 hours to visit the aquarium and learned quite a bit while there.

Pier 3 Pavilion will guide you through five levels of life under the sea.

Level 1: Blacktip Reef – This habitat replicated the Indo-Pacific reef landscape with floor-to-ceiling pop-out window.   It contains living corals as well as 65-70 species of animals.   There you might encounter Calypso, a 500-pound green sea turtle that was rescued off the shore of Long Island in 2000.  Her left front flipper had become infected and required amputation in order to save her life.  Calypso made a huge impression on the kids when they were able to see her swimming from an upper level.


Level 2: Maryland:  Mountains to the Sea – This level will feature animals from Maryland.  Four exhibits create the illusion of traveling down a Maryland stream from its source in the Allegheny Mountains, to a tidal marsh, to a coastal beach, and finally ending in the Atlantic shelf.    While exploring this level we thought it was well created as you had really the feeling of entering in the specific habitat presented.


Level 3: Surviving Through Adaptation – This level will allow  you to discover the species that possess adaptation reflexes in order to survive in their environments.   We encountered the electric eel, the chambered nautilus (my favourite!) and the giant Pacific octopus.


Level 4: Sea cliffs, Kelp Forest, Pacific Coral Reef, Amazon River Forest – This level will introduce you to several aquatic habitats – the sea cliffs  houses several species of seabirds, the Pacific coral reef exhibit, the kelp forest exhibit, the Amazon River exhibit.   We encountered the Atlantic puffin which came swimming close to us while exploring this level.  This personal encounter was definitively a treat for everyone in the family.

IMG_1474Level 5: Upland Tropical Rain Forest, Hidden Life – Finally, the last level of the Pier 3 Pavilion simulated the Amazon rainforest and includes two platforms for bird-watching and a cave of displays of reptiles, amphibians and terrestrial arthropods.   While in the Amazon rainforest, we met some Golden lion tamarins, the Scarlet ibis and spied the Linnaeus’s two-toed sloth up in a tree.  We even saw cocoa pods growing at the top of a tree.


The Atlantic Coral Reef which exhibits a replicated Atlantic coral reed with over 500 exotic species as well as the Shark Alley which will make you walk downward in order to observe various sizes and species of sharks complete this pavilion.


Pier 4 Pavilion which is the smaller building is the home of the marine mammal exhibit which hosts Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and  a beautiful exhibit of assorted jellyfish called “Jellies Invasion: Oceans Out of Balance”.IMG_1544



Finally, the glass pavilion will bring you in the Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit from Australia.   Here you will discover the laughing kookaburra, the rainbow lorikeet, the snake-necked turtle, the pig-nose-turtle and many more animals living in Australia.  We even observe a kind of fish that will spit out water in order to get a bug to eat.  This demonstration was really out of the ordinary for us who don’t visit aquariums often.


In conclusion, the National Aquarium is a fabulous place to visit with your family if you want to learn more about life under the sea.   Not only will you get close and personal with some of the species exhibited here but you will have a great time exploring the seas.  We are grateful for the time spent at the National Aquarium and will remember our visit for many years to come.


Disclaimer: Thanks to the National Aquarium in Baltimore for giving us free tickets for our family so we can explore life under the sea in exchange of a blog post . I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

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