My family had the wonderful opportunity to take a weekend trip to Atlanta, Georgia on behalf of the Georgia Aquarium. I was provided with Georgia Aquarium’s hotel package, where we spent 3 days and 2 nights at the TWELVE Hotels Atlanta Centennial Park in downtown Atlanta, just a few blocks from the Aquarium, Coke-Cola and the Children’s Museum. We arrived to our hotel on Friday, and I couldn’t believe how nice it was. I been to nice hotels but this was one of the top notch hotels that was very classy and elegant. All the staff were extremely nice and made sure you were very comfortable. We stayed in Twelve Hotels large suite with two bedrooms, two full baths, living room and kitchen area. It was really like a small apartment with everything you need for your families stay. Below you will see our hotel suite areas.

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On Saturday morning, we went down and had our complimentary breakfast in the hotels restaurant, that has been named Best Downtown Hotel  Restaurant by Atlanta Magazine and Top Ten New Restaurants in the city’s searches.breakfastBar

After our breakfast, we grabbed a Taxi and headed over to the Aquarium. We had a scheduled behind the seas tour with our tour guide, Marvin at 10AM. The Aquarium opens at 9AM, so our first stop was to the Will Call to pick up our tickets, then headed inside to explore a little before our tour. My oldest two sons have been to the Aquarium on their school field trips this year and last and I accompanied them as a chaperone. My youngest, Eli, had never been to the Georgia Aquarium and neither has Greg, and the boys were excited to share all the fun facts and show us around, to see all the cool stuff they saw when they first visited.

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About the Aquarium – The aquarium was opened in 2005, and has seven galleries: Georgia Explorer, Tropical Diver, Ocean Voyager, Cold Water Quest, River Scout, Dolphin Tales and its newest addition the Aquanaut Adventure . Each corresponds to a specific environment. It houses between 100,000- 120,000 fish and other sea creatures and also has more than 500 species. It’s also the only institution that houses whale sharks outside of Asia. The aquarium and design was built around the whale sharks, that are kept in a 6.3 million gallon tank. The acrylic window in the Ocean Voyager exhibit is the largest window on the continent of North America. There are more than 61 miles of pipes and wires ran through the Aquarium. It’s located in downtown heart of Atlanta with many shopping, dining, entertainment and much more surrounding you.

There were so many questions I wanted to know, as I am sure we are all curious about how the Aquarium functions daily, what are the routines for workers, the animals and exhibits, how are the animals taking care of etc.? I was so full of questions before our trip that I was excited when Marvin, our tour guide covered most all the things I wanted to know even without asking him and when we had other questions he was able answered them.

About the Galleries:

 Tropical Diver is the largest habitat in the exhibit that holds 164,000 gallons of water. Not only does it house tropical fish, but it cultivates live tropical Pacific coral reefs and thousands of colorful reef fish.

 Coldwater Quest houses many kinds of different fish, Cannon Ball Jelly Fish, Blue Crabs, Japanese Spider Crabs, Moon Jelly, Pacific Sea Nettle, the Hawaiian Day Octopus, Penguins and Beluga whales and many more. Maris, one of the Beluga Whales were expecting a baby calf any day. When we got back from our trip I kept checking the site and Facebook Page for an update on the birth of the Beluga’s calf and found out it was born on May 10th at 1:35 am. What a special announcement on Mother’s Day to celebrate. Watch the video below of Maris the 20 year old whale’s calf get welcomed:

Dolphin Tales is one of the most exciting shows I’ve seen.  There are live actors, amazing effects, exhilarating musical score, all to educate and entertain the audience. The dolphins are very well trained and do so many neat acts during the show. 

River Scout has a wide diversity of animals that were found in the rivers of four continents including North America, Africa, South America and Asia. Animals range from the cute Asian small-clawed otters, albino alligators and many others.

Deepo’s Undersea 3D Wondershow is an awesome 3-D show in a 4D gallery, that every guest will love to watch. Grab your 3-D glasses at the entrance and go under sea with Deepo and his friends. Each show last 30 minutes and plays at different times. 

Aquanaut Adventure is the newest gallery and is a hands on Discovery Zone. It lets guests of all ages adventure on educational journeys through the Aquarium’s upper levels while completing a series of entertaining challenges. Once the guests have completed fie our of seven challenges they become certified Georgia Aquarium Aquanaut or Aquarium Scientist, so to speak. You can explore marine habitats, learn how animals thrive in extreme environments and even learn what it’s like to have a career in marine and aquatic sciences.

 Ocean Voyager was built by Home Depot. It’s the world’s largest aquatic habitat and the only aquarium to house whale sharks. It holds 6.3 million gallons of salt water. Along with the four whale sharks, there are also four Manta Rays (2 females and 2 males). They are many different kinds of fish, Leopard WhipRays and many others in this exhibit. 

Since the Whale Sharks are a main part of the Aquarium we wanted to learn as much as we could. We learned that unlike most sharks the whale sharks mouth is located at the front of the head instead of the underside of rostrum. The whale sharks mouth’s are very huge and when opened can reach up to 4 feet wide. They have 300 rows of teeth located on the inner side of each of their jaws and even though they have a large mouth opening their throat size is about the size of a quarter making their favorite meals like small shrimp. When feeding time there are four people who will get in the rafts and line up along the four separate lines and go back and forth feeding the whale sharks. They feed twice a day eating up to 18lbs of food.whalesharkWe were able to catch the feeding of the whale sharks. The ventilation fans used to create ripples in the were turned off during feeding time and the whale sharks know that it is feeding time. When you see the ripples in the water throughout the aquarium, those are created by fans so that viewers can’t see the rafters and pipes from each exhibit. 

whalesharkfeedingI was able to catch a short video of the feeding. Check it out below. 

There is also a 100 foot long underwater tunnel that you are able to walk through or ride the conveyor belt viewing all the animals in the Ocean Voyager exhibit. It’s acrylic windows weight 185 tons and is the second largest viewing window in the world.The Ocean Voyager is a must see because of the whale sharks, manta rays and other animals you are able to see and learn about. It is definitely a one of a kind sight to see. After exploring the Ocean Voyager, we went up the second level, to Marvin at the Tour Guide desk to begin our tour. 

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The behind the seas tour is a must if you have time. It takes about 2 hours and in that two hours you are able to see and learn so much about the animals, exhibits, how the Aquarium runs it is totally awesome. We were able to see the Husbandary Commissonary, which is a very large kitchen, equipped with stainless tables, counters, freezers, refrigerators, where all the animals foods are prepared. It has a freezer that holds up to 20,000 pounds of food and is -10 degrees, an a refrigerator that holds up to 6,000 pounds of foods. We were also able to see the Veterinary Clinic, where the animals are seen by the doctors, the loading and unloading docks where they receive packages and also a opening ceiling that can open when they have large animals come in like the whale sharks that were brought in using a very large crane. All of the hallways are large enough for the forklift to come through to move heavy things to their places.  

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Misc AquariumAlso shown in the images is the food prep room, vet, tool room, loading dock, and filters room. The water is purified by a system that contains 141 sand filters, 218 pumps, 70 Protein Skillers that pump 261,000 gallons of water per minute throughout the aquarium.

PART 3:pipesIn the white bags contained sea salt that gets dumped into the tap water system so that it turns into ocean water. We were able to feel the water being pumped through the large pipes. The picture of the red and black round equipment piece is the actual size of the pipes and can be opened and closed off just by turning the wheels on it side. 

babypenguinBefore our tour was over we were able to see a baby Penguin that was just a month or so old. It hadn’t shed it fur yet so it wasn’t ready to be introduced to the waters.  Our overall trip to the Aquarium was a trip my entire family will not forget. We learned so much and was able to experience an opportunity that everyone should try. To schedule your trip to the Georgia Aquarium visit here. You and your family are sure to love the experience and adventures you get to learn about plus it is very affordable. Be sure to check out TWELVE Hotels Atlanta Centennial Park Hotel Packages that includes room and visiting the Georgia Aquarium here. 

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What is your favorite exhibit to visit when going to the Aquarium?

I created another blog post to share with you the top 5 things to do at the Georgia Aquarium and travel tips to help you plan your trip. Visit here to check it out. 

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