The first exhibit we visited was the Ocean Voyager. This part of the aquarium is home to 4 whales and 4 manta rays which I had the pleasure to witness. It recently added a fourth manta ray to the Ocean Voyager exhibit and they are the only rays in the U.S. aquarium. There were a thousands of other fish in the 6.3 million gallon exhibit and it is the most magical aquarium habitat in the world.
We had the pleasure to walk through an acrylic tunnel and we felt like a SCUBA diver in an endless blue sea, mesmerized by thousands of fish swimming overhead. Ocean Voyager, built by The Home Depot, is home to the gentle giants of the sea, including whale sharks and four manta rays.
My husband and I started to walk in the Georgia-Pacific Cold Water Quest exhibit and had the chance to see the beautiful beluga whales. They were so cute and always smiling. When they swim in the water it gave me a calming effect over my body. Here are some facts about the Beluga whales:
- The beluga whale is a warm blooded mammal that breathes through the blowhole on the top of its head, not through its mouth.
- The word “beluga” is derived from the Russian word for “white”.
- This whale can reach 15 feet long and weigh approximately 2,500 pounds. Blubber, a thick layer of fat, helps the animal stay warm and accounts for more than 40% of a beluga’s weight.
- Normally, the beluga is a slow swimmer, averaging speeds of 2 to 6 miles per hour. However, it can achieve bursts of speeds in excess of 17 miles per hour. The beluga also has the ability to swim backwards.
I also had a chance to stand into the Acrylic tunnels and pop-up windows which allowed me to come face to face with the African penguins This exhibit features more than 25 nesting areas integrated into naturalistic rockwork and comes equipped with a state-of-the-art lighting system that mimics the natural light cycle from twilight to moonlight. These penguins reminded me to the wild African Penguins in Cape Town, South Africa that I had a chance to visit in 2006. It was beautiful to see these animals even though they were trying to go to sleep.
Also in the Cold Water Quest exhibit there were the Japanese spider crabs which is part of Deep Sea Dwellers. Their habitat represents life 1,000 feet (305 m) deep: dark, barren and cold area. Japanese spider crab gets its name from its resemblance to a spider. It has a rounded body covered with stubby projections and long slim legs. The species has been known to grow up to 12 feet (3.7 m) across. Its body will grow to about 15 inches (37 cm) wide and the animal can weigh up to 44 lbs. (20 kg).
Another thing in the Cold Water Quest exhibit is the Rocky Shore Tidal Pool were we had the chance to dip our hand and touching the Fish-Eating Anemone. In this exhibit you really get an idea of how cold the Pacific Northwest can be – the temperature here is kept at approximately 55o F (12.8o C). While touching this creature I notice that my fingers got stuck on its white tentacles. It felt so weird but the guide told me that this is where they feeds on small fishes not humans.
The last thing in the Cold Water exhibit we had a chance to see the cute Southern Sea Otters. Southern sea otter is not a social animal as are other otter species and has been known to live alone. We notice that this sea otter was the only one that wanted his pictures taken even though he was sleepy. It is believed that a sea otter will wrap itself with kelp before sleeping at the surface to keep itself from drifting away.
The last place we visited is the Southern Company River Scout exhibit which showcases a wide diversity of animals found in the rivers of four continents – Africa, South America, Asia and North America. The rivers are essential to life for animals, people and cultures throughout the world. We saw the Sting-Rays which are Cartilaginous Fish.
The skeletons of these animals (Class Chondrichthyes) are composed of cartilage instead of bone. Their bodies are covered with dermal denticles, providing a smooth appearance. Depending on species, they will have 5-7 gills for breathing. Many must continuously swim to breathe.
Also in River Scout exhibit we saw the Jelly Fish and the Sea Star Fish which are Invertebrates.
Invertebrates are animals that do not have a spine or vertebral column. They do not have skeletons or bone. Overall, they are incredibly diverse: approximately 97% of all animal species are invertebrates. For this reason, they must be classified into more than 30 phyla – from sponges to arthropods.
So if you are in Atlanta, Georgia, make sure you stop by and have a date at the Georgia Aquarium! You will love it and want to come back again!