Quick Review: Georgia Aquarium

While recently in Atlanta, I had a chance to make a brief visit to the Georgia Aquarium. Some quick thoughts:

1. Overall, a beautiful facility. Well-designed with an interesting central space/lobby. Vivid exhibits. The only downside was the large crowds in some of the exhibits.

2. The best part were the large tanks. This aquarium doesn’t have a lot of individual tanks featuring a lot of different species. The emphasis is on large tanks, particularly in the Ocean Voyager exhibit. While this exhibit features some rare animals such as the whale shark (unbelievably large), this has numerous great viewing points plus a tunnel underneath the middle of the tank. The viewing theater space at the end of the exhibit was a location where I could sit for a long time just watching the animals swim by. Here is an image of the whale shark from the viewing theater:

3. There were a number of innovative ways to view the tanks. In addition to the tunnel in the Ocean Voyager exhibit, I walked through a small tunnel with glass ceilings (probably three feet tall) under a river exhibit. The penguin exhibit featured special “bubbles”: people would walk up into the exhibit from below and while surrounded by a plastic bubble perhaps four feet across, see eye-to-eye with the penguins.

4. There is a special shark exhibit that didn’t feature any live sharks but had a lot of information on fossil teeth, different shark species, and interactions with humans. One room featured a frozen giant tuna next to a large shark and talked about how sharks chased tunas in the ocean depths. On one hand, the exhibit said sharks were dangerous creatures (with a particular emphasis on their teeth and jaws). On the other hand, the exhibit kept saying that the media and Hollywood have over-hyped shark attacks.

5. The aquarium seemed pretty kid-friendly, particularly in the Georgia Coast exhibit where patrons could touch a number of animals (I touched a small shark, stingrays, along with a few other small and more fixed creatures) and kids could crawl around in some cool-looking equipment.

6. Like many museums today, it was pricey: around $31 for what I saw (and I didn’t purchase all the add-ons).

Even with the price and the crowds, this was well worth the money. I thought the Shedd Aquarium was a lot of fun – this relatively new aquarium is vastly superior.