The world’s largest fish tank

Earlier this year the Georgia Aquarium, also known as the world’s largest fish tank, added dolphins and Katy has been anxious to see them. We never did make it over the summer but today was a teacher workday for Fulton County so we decided it would be a good time to go. It was, too. This is our third visit and the first one where  we didn’t have to fight crowds. We’d been on a weekday in the summer once and there were multiple daycare and camp field trips. We had tickets for 11 and it didn’t start getting really crowded until around 1. By then we’d seen half the exhibits and eaten lunch.

Since they are featuring dolphins right now, there were dolphins everywhere.

Statue outside the aquarium
Conan the Dolphin
The Geico gecko rides a dolphin

The first stop was the touch pools in the native Georgia area. We got up close and personal with shrimp, horseshoe crabs (which we discovered are more arachnid than fish — a spider with armor!), star fish, manta rays and some kind of spiny urchin.

Feeling a star fish
Petting a ray. That’s an employee on the right

After the touch and feel experience, it wast time for the displays.

Lion fish. This looks so cool. It’s highly poisonous, though, and you’re supposed to wash with hot water if you get stung. Followed by a trip to the hospital!

I think the sea dragons look neat.

And these things that stick up like grass. I forget what they’re called. Garden something or other.

One of our favorite parts of the aquarium is the “world’s largest screensaver”. It’s the whale shark tank. To get to it you walk through a tunnel (or ride on the moving sidewalk) while the whale sharks, rays and many other fish swim above and beside you.

A ray from below
Underneath a whale shark

And on the other side of the tunnel was the observation tank. The viewing window is made from acrylic two feet thick and the tank is about the size of a football field and has six million gallons of water. There are many varieties of fish besides the whale sharks and rays. One variety is the grouper. One thing we always learn about groupers is they are  overfished. They don’t reproduce until they are 20 years old and most don’t make it that long without being caught. Another thing frequently brought up is why don’t the sharks eat the other fish. Whale sharks have hundreds of teeth but their esophagus is the diameter of a quarter. They eat kelp and other little bitty things. Never mind they have a mouth that looks like the shuttle bay of a space ship. The predators are well-fed and tend to leave the other fish alone. Once in a while someone gets eaten that shouldn’t, but not often.

The big spotted thing to the left is a whale shark

I didn’t get a good photo of the otters, but they were so funny. The were running and swimming and playing. One dove into the water and came up with a toy. He took off and the others followed him. They were stock-piling all their toys in one area. A few of them kind of reminded me of Buddy.

A few other interesting things we saw:

Tropical fish tank
Jelly fish. Looks like something out of Star Trek
Not a good photo, but this ray kept doing backflips
Beluga whale
Albino alligator
I forget what fish this is but Katy really liked it
Crab. After seeing live crabs, shrimp and octopi, you wonder why anyone ever thought to eat any of them.

After seeing all the exhibits it was time to go see the dolphin show. While the dolphins were neat and it was fun to watch them do their tricks, the show was the dumbest thing. Something about a ship swallowed by a sea monster and the dolphins saved the day. Lots of lights and music and dancing and choreography. Imagine Disney with not much budget. Halfway through Heath said “How long is this?” I said I didn’t know, but if the dolphins knew what the show was about, they’d be embarrassed. It was all entertainment and no education. And there’s no dolphin exhibit, either. There’s a holding tank next to the theater with an observation window but it’s not much to look at and there’s no information to read. I think they can do much better than that.

Dolphin swimming around

And don’t forget to exit through the gift shop.

Katy scored a stuff sea horse

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