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Here are three of the top aquariums in the U.S. for exploring life under the ocean’s surface and conservation efforts to ensure the health and protection of species for future generations.
The Georgia Aquarium
The Georgia Aquarium houses more than 100,000 animals and represents several thousand species, all of which reside in tanks that hold more than 10 million gallons of water. The aquarium is one of the largest in the world and was made possible through a generous philanthropic donation from the foundation of Atlanta businessman and Home Depot founder Bernard Marcus.
The Aquarium’s notable residents include whale sharks, beluga whales, California sea lions, bottlenose dolphins and manta rays.
- The Georgia Aquarium was designed around a 6.3 million gallon tank that houses whale sharks that can grow up to 40 ft.
- The aquarium is one of only four sites in the world displaying a manta ray.
- The aquarium is involved in research initiatives that focus on whale sharks in the Yucatán Peninsula, beluga whales in Alaska, penguins in South Africa, manateesin Quintana Roo, Mexico, loggerhead sea turtles on the Georgia coast and spotted eagle rays in Sarasota, Florida.
Birch Aquarium at Scripps
San Diego, California
Birch Aquarium at Scripps (also referred to as Scripps Aquarium or Birch Aquarium) is an aquarium and the public outreach center for Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California (UCSD). The aquarium has an annual attendance of more than 439,000. The stunning location in picturesque La Jolla offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean from its outdoor Tidepool Plaza.
The Aquarium’s notable residents include seahorses, sea turtles, Leafy Seadragons and Leopard Sharks.
- Scripps’ Aquarium displays include a gallery on tropical marine habitats, including species local to San Diego.
- The largest habitat is a 70,000 gallon kelp forest The tank can be viewed live online through the Kelp Cam.
- Tide-Pool Plaza features three living tide poolswhere visitors can touch and learn about tide-pool animals with docents. Windows in the habitats provide up-close views of starfish, hermit crabs, sea cucumbers, lobsters, and other animals local to San Diego’s tide pools. The tide pool overlooks La Jolla and the Pacific Ocean.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
The famous Monterey Bay Aquarium focuses on marine habitats of Monterey Bay and features a live kelp bed forest and interactive educational displays. The Aquarium’s Conservation & Science programs are tackling some of the most critical issues affecting ocean health.
Sea otters, corals, jellyfish, dolphinfish, octopus and sharks.
- Monterey Bay Aquarium was the first to exhibit a living kelp forest when it opened in October 1984.
- The aquarium’s biologists have pioneered the animal husbandry of jellyfish and it was the first to successfully care for and display a great white shark.
- The organization’s research and conservation efforts focus on sea otters, various birds and tunas.
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This article contains excerpts and facts from each respective aquarium website and other sources.