Aquariums, regardless if they are big or small, tend to appeal to everyone. Whether you're a first-time visitor or a frequent guest, there is always something to capture and hold your interest.
In the South, there are plenty of aquariums to visit. Consider any of the following 10 the next time you are nearby.
Aquarium Pyramid - Moody Gardens
Inside the iconic blue glass mult
i-storied pyramid at Moody Gardens is a 1.5 million gallon aquarium that's considered to be one of the largest in te United States.
The four galleries showcase well over 10,000 marine animals and creatures found within the depths of the South Atlantic, North Pacific, South Pacific and the Caribbean. View the thousands of species of fish, gaze at sharks and stingrays, watch as penguins play and interact with one anther (penguin lovers may want to check out Penguin Encounters
), and much more.
Audubon Aquarium of Americas
New Orleans, La.
Located adjacent to the French Quarter, the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas highlights the aquatic world
of both the North and South America continents. From seahorses
to sea otters
and nearly everything in between can be seen here.
The aquarium is home to 10,000 animals representing 400 species, including rare and endangered species, like King Mydas, an endangered green sea turtle in the Gulf of Mexico
Don't miss the playful southern sea otters, the Geaux Fish!
exhibit that is a nod to the Gulf Coast fishing industry and the Mississippi River
exhibit, which introduces visitors to the many creatures that inhabit the river.
As one of the world's largest aquarium, the Georgia Aquarium is the only one in North America that houses mantra rays and whale sharks, which can be seen in the Ocean Voyager built by Home Depot
Visit the Georgia-Pacific Cold Water Quest
gallery to view beluga whales. Head over the SunTrust Pier 225
gallery to learn everything about sea lions.
In addition to the aquarium's seven galleries, there are plenty of opportunities to interact with aquatic animals like the Dolphin Encounter
or Journey with Gentle Giants
Flint RiverQuarium offers an up-close look at the underwater world of the Flint River watershed. The highlight is the 175,000-gallon, 22-foot deep open-air
tank that represents Blue Hole Spring
found in the area. View such creatures as the Gulf sturgeon, spotted sucker and Florida softshell turtle.
Among the over 100 species of fish, alligators, turtles and more within the RiverQuarium's exhibits include the Eastern river cooter in the Flint River Gallery
, albino alligator in the Spring Run Creek
and French angelfish in the World of Water
Don't miss the Cypress Pond Aviary
, home to birds indigenous to the Flint River basin.
On downtown Chattanooga's riverfront is the Tennessee Aquarium, made up of two buildings: River Journey and Ocean Journey
River Journey provides an up-close look at various river inhabitants. Exhibits feature the nation's largest salamander in Discover Hall
, American alligators
in the Mississippi Delta and channel catfish in the Tennessee River Gallery
. The Rivers of the World
brings attention to life found in the Amazon, Congo and Fly Rivers, among other; while the River Giants
provides a sneak peek at some massive creatures who swim in large rivers/lakes
Inside Ocean Journey, view The Secret Reef
, the largest tank at the aquarium, on three levels. It features various reef fish, green sea turtles, sand tiger and sandbar sharks and much more. Among the other exhibits in the building include Boneless Beauties
that include jellyfish and Penguins Rock
filled with playful Gentoo and macaroni penguins.
Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies
Jellyfish, Japanese spider crabs, sand tiger sharks - oh my! Come face-to-face with these and other aquatic creatures at Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies.
There are nine galleries to explore in the two-level aquarium. On the lower level, discover the Coral Reef
complete with clownfish and dive shows. At the upper level, take a journey into the Ocean Realm
to see weedy scorpionfish and more.
It isn't a complete visit without stopping by the Penguin Playhouse
. For those wanting more penguin time, consider the Penguin Encounter
SEA LIFE Aquarium
Situated in the I-Drive 360 complex is the Sea Life Aquarium. The 25,000-square foot aquarium is home to over 5,000 creatures, ranging from the small (seahorses
) to the large (sharks) to the boneless (giant Pacific octopus
Special features like the 360-degree and 180-degree walkthrough tunnels and bubble aquariums offer a unique experience. The cold water rock pool
is just one of over 30 interactive displays found here.
Parker Manatee Aquarium
Home to Snooty
, the world's oldest known manatee, who has been under the care of South Florida Museum since 1949, the Parker Manatee Aquarium at South Florida Museum serves as a rehabilitation facility for injured or displaced manatees before returning them back into the wild.
Designed to hold two additional sea cows
along with permanent resident, Snooty, catch a glimpse of the creatures above or underwater. Programs are held daily to educate visitors about manatees.
Mote Marine Aquarium
Explore the world of marine science research at Mote Marine Aquarium. With over 100 species of marine life, so
me of the aquarium's residents include the cowfish and puffers in the Florida Bay Habitats
exhibit and snook and redfish in From the Rivers to the Sea
Mote has the only Center for Shark Research recognized by the U.S. Congress. See sharks as well as Goliath groupers and other ocean creatures inside the 135,000-galloon Shark Habitat in the Shark Zone
It is also home to a Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program
, a hatchling hospital, and five sea turtles in the Sea Turtle Ancient Survivors exhibit.
Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center
Virginia Beach, Va.
Interact with or encounter over 300 species of marine and land animals at Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center.
Inside the Bay & Ocean Pavilion, travel from the Chesapeake Bay to the Atlantic Ocean. View the world's largest collection of Chesapeake Bay fish, watch three species of sea turtles maneuver through the water at the Chesapeake Light Tower Aquarium
At the Marsh Pavilion, enjoy the antics of the river otters
and discover other marsh inhabitants, including those living in a "macro-marsh."
photos personal collection