We have had a GREAT school year and last week I surprised my children with a field trip to the Georgia Aquarium. It was a field trip unlike any other we have been on, because we had an opportunity to see things behind the scenes!
I hope you don’t mind…I have a TON of pictures to share.
Before I share our pictures and memories, I want to pause for a minute and share something I think is really special. One week before our visit, my youngest son received a full leg cast (due to a possible break in his knee). I emailed our contact and asked if we should reschedule….because we did not have a wheel chair. Immediately, a response was sent back that the aquarium would provide a wheel chair (did you know they have them available for guests to use at their information center) and they would have it ready for us! I thought that was wonderful….but, what really touched my heart was how accommodating the entire aquarium was to his wheel chair and how kind every employee was. Now, that does not mean we received any special treatment. What I thought was truly special…was the fact that while my son was in a cast and the aquarium had taken appropriate measures for people with limited abilities….and they were very kind and helpful, they in no way did anything for us that would seem ‘unfair’ to another visitor. The Aquarium truly received a thumbs up for this!
Now, on to our visit. One of our first stops at the aquarium was to visit the room ABOVE Ocean Voyager. While we were safely behind the glass watching the manta rays and whale sharks, we were able to watch as the whale sharks were fed. While we watched, we learned… in the top right picture of this collage, you see my daughter reading from our Aquarium Guide.
While watching the Whale sharks eat (did you know their throats are only as big as a quarter?) was exciting, I was thrilled with our next stop. We visited a room where many educational classes are held. This room overlooks the top of the Cold Water Quest. As you can see,the Aquarium has provided easy access for some hands-on-learning… for all ages – yes, I had to get my fingers in there and feel the mantas and the star fish, as well!
As I mentioned, this room (above) is the top of the Cold Water Quest Exhibit. Behind the window (in the water)…are the beautiful Belugas. MY Favorite…and my daughter’s, as well. Unfortunately, we were both so captivated by watching them, I did not take many pictures. You see, one of the Belugas is pregnant and is expected to have her baby ANY day! So, we were watching and praying we would be there for that momentous event. Alas, we were not…but, we keep watching the Aquarium Website for any updates!
It has been a little over a year since I visited with the children last. Since then, they have opened the new Dolphin exhibit with the Dolphin Tales Show! I could not imagine how they were going to have room for these beautiful creatures and a show…..but, they have done so beautifully. As you enter the Dolphin Area, you go up an escalator (or an elevator in our case)….and you walk past a window where you can stand and watch the dolphins (either before/after the show). We had an opportunity after watching Dolphin Tales to stand and watch these sweet, fun creatures swim about.
Dolphin Tales was a cute show…that shared a story with the children about a man who lost his ship at sea and needed their help, along with the help of the Dolphins to ‘raise’ it from the depths of the sea. It was a cute musical with some sound/light effects the children enjoyed. Now, I have to admit, I have been to Sea World and I was wondering how in the world an Aquarium could pull off showing dolphins. This was a great idea…to make the show into a musical. While the show is geared a little more to children under 12 (in my opinion)….I really did enjoy watching it and watching all of the children enjoy the music, join in…and the dolphins themselves, were amazing! All in all, it’s definitely a great way to see the amazing tricks dolphins can do…my daughter truly wants to become a Marine Biologist now
We didn’t just have to use our behind the scenes tour for some good hands-on activities. We enjoyed them throughout the entire Aquarium. I think it is wonderful that the Aquarium has created a rich environment that is child-friendly, while also protecting the animals.
Speaking of GREAT ways for children to learn. The Aquarium often has special events…that allow each visit to be different. During one of our last visits, we were able to walk through an exhibit for the Titanic. They now have a GREAT exhibit for FROGS – A Chorus of Colors – my youngest REALLY likes Frogs…do you have a little one who brings you a new frog every week, too? Yes…that’ s how much he loves them….so, this exhibit truly had him captivated!
Of course, you don’t really want your children touching one frog and going to another…that could lead to some serious health issues. HOWEVER, the Aquarium has some special hands on learning here, too…with a Virtual method of dissecting a frog. My oldest had fun learning and dissecting (I enjoyed not having to clean it up!)
There is so much to see (and do) at the Aquarium..yet,there is one room, I never get to spend as much time in…as I would like. That’s the room with the Jelly Fish. I love the peaceful way these creatures float about in the water. During a recent trip to the beach, we found many littered on the sand….and it was sad to see. BUT, it pulled my children into wanting to watch and learn. So, this trip…we took more time to stand, watch and observe…and yes, I even snuck a few pictures….
While Jelly fish, Whale Sharks and Belugas have a special place in my heart…..The Tropical Diver probably holds the most special. You see, I spent two years in Okinawa and while I did not scuba dive while I was there, I did snorkel…quite often. I miss running out into the water (on the coral reef) and swimming along with the fish. So, this room, brings back some fond memories… Thanks to our behind the scenes tour, I know how the Aquarium makes the waves for the reef. Want to know how they make them? Hahaha…you’ll have to take the tour!!!
Over the years, the children and I have been learning about Aquariums…how they are built, etc. One thing I was excited to learn was that the Georgia Aquarium is learning how to grow Coral…. Currently, they have 40% live coral…and I believe that over the years, that number will increase, making the ‘reef’ a true environment for the fish who live there.
There’s nothing like visiting some truly dangerous terrain while you are at the Aquarium. The River Scout Exhibit helps you get up close and somewhat personal….with Albino Alligators and Piranha….
And…if you do have someone in a wheel chair, I hope our visit and sharing these pictures with you…have shown you that you really can get around quite easily…and interact/enjoy all of the exhibits. For my little guy…he could not wait to see his buddies, the penguins. He has enjoyed running in front of the window letting them chase him, since his first visit when he was 2. He was a little concerned ‘they wouldn’t play with him’ this time…but, those sweet sea flying birds did not let him down…they even let him know that they were concerned about his cast and chair….but, oh, did he have fun!
We always end our visit….by spending at least thirty minutes watching the window in the Ocean Voyager. It is simply amazing to sit, and just relax watching these beautiful sea creatures swim about….
The Georgia Aquarium is a great place to visit. It is like most places and includes information about Evolution. So, I highly recommend talking with your children First and Using your Aquarium Guide to provide your children with true facts about the fish/animals.
One day, we hope to enjoy a sleep over and my oldest really wants to go on a Journey with the Giants. Perhaps, one day…both of those wishes will come true. For now, we’re busy using the Aquarium Website to learn about all of the fish/animals we were able to see. Their website is full of GREAT opportunities to learn…both before and after your visit!
I hope you enjoyed traveling through our visit with us. We can’t wait to return!
Until then, you can find the Georgia Aquarium here:
This fun field trip is linked to the Hip Homeschool Hop…for others to enoy!
Disclosure: I am so thankful for the opportunity the Georgia Aquarium Provided our family. We received this special trip in exchange for our honest opinion. No other compensation was received