Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Day At The Aquarium

I am posting this as Atlanta is getting blanketed with snow!

The Georgia Aquarium, located in Atlanta, Georgia, USA at Pemberton Place, is the world's largest aquarium with more than 8.5 million US gallons (31,000 m³) of marine and fresh water housing more than 100,000 animals of 500 different species. The aquarium's notable specimens include four young whale sharks, including Alice and Trixie, four beluga whales named Beethoven, Maris, Grayson, and Qinu, and four manta rays Nandi, Tallulah, Billi and the fourth was recently added.

Beethoven, the whale shark

Funded mostly by a $250 million donation from Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, the aquarium was built on a 20 acre (81,000 m²) site north of Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta on land donated by Coca Cola. An additional $40 million dollars in financial contributions was donated by major corporations including the Coca-Cola Company, Turner Broadcasting, Home Depot, UPS, AirTran Airways, AT&T, Georgia-Pacific, Time Warner, SunTrust and Southern Company. The corporate donations allowed the aquarium to open debt free.

The Georgia Aquarium is the only institution outside of Asia to house whale sharks. The sharks are kept in a 6.3 million gallon (24,000 m³) tank, and the aquarium was actually designed around the whale shark exhibit. The importation of the whale sharks from Taiwan, which was overseen by Jeff Swanagan and staff biologists, was "top secret" and had never been attempted previously. The move required the use of large aircraft, trucks and boats to ship the massive aquatic animals to Atlanta. (UPS donated the air transportation) The four whale sharks were taken from Taiwan's annual fishing kill quota, which the country has since abolished. Under the quota, the whale sharks would have been killed and eaten if they had not been purchased by the Georgia Aquarium.

According to aquarium founder Bernard Marcus, the aquarium's conservation and environmental mission is just as important as its status as an attraction. Long before opening, the aquarium was already working with Georgia Tech and Georgia State University in Atlanta and the University of Georgia in Athens to help save endangered species through education and research programs.

Since 2008,divers and snorkelers have been allowed to swim in the big tank with the whale sharks in groups of eight for a measly $250.  Why anybody would want to do this is beyond me but chacun a son gout.  You can also spend the night at the museum with the fish and your kids (shudder..)  I didn't check on the cost for obvious reasons.

The place was full of families with both parents and children having a swell time.  It is very clean and well organized.  Highly recommended for children of all ages.  Just look at my grandson's eyes and he's only 4 months!

Small children are allowed to come up close to the tanks.

All photos Lindaraxa
Information from Wikipedia

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