In our determination to find more to do in Atlanta, we decided to check out the Georgia Aquarium. Our friends, Tim & Denise, and Denise’s Mom and Step-Dad went with us. The Georgia Aquarium is advertised as being the largest indoor aquarium in the US, and it certainly appeared large and overwhelming as we walked through the entrance.
The large central area is home to the Gift Shop (a.k.a. the Exit, in Disney-style) and the Food Court/Restaurant area, as well as several Customer Service Counters . . . where you can get a map and figure out how to tackle all of the exhibits.
We decided to start in the Cold Water Quest, home to the Beluga Whales, Penguins and other cold water creatures.
The Beluga Whales were so cute, and probably my favorite of the day.
This one really liked the little kids, and kept coming right up to the glass to look at them!
We dragged ourselves away from the belugas and continued on to the penguins, who were also very cute,
and then the seahorses and giant crabs.
Tom was wondering how many crabcakes he could get out of that guy!!
By the time we exited the Cold Water Quest, it was almost noon and our plan was to get our packed lunch out of the car and go over to Centennial Olympic Park to watch the Fountain of Rings Show at 12:30 and eat our lunch, and then be back in time for the Dolphin Tales Show at 1:30pm. The others didn’t want to make the walk over to the park, so it was just the 3 of us.
We walked past the World of Coke, heading towards Olympic Centennial Park.
It’s a beautiful park,
with lawns and gardens, sculptures,
and the remnants of the 1996 Olympics at the far end.
The 5 Olympic Torches encircled the Fountain of Rings, along with the flags of all the countries that participated in the 1996 Olympics.
There are benches all around the Fountains, so we sat and ate our lunch while we waited for the 12:30 show.
The fountains run all the time, and kids run around in the water, but several times each day, the area is closed and the fountains are choreographed to music.
The water show was really good, and only 15 minutes long so we easily made it back to the Aquarium in time for the Dolphin Show at 1:30.
We found the others when we got back inside, and managed to get seats together in the auditorium. We had to sit pretty high up, but we were right in the center, so the view was pretty good.
The “storyline” was a little hokey, but the dolphin performers were really amazing! We weren’t allowed to use a flash, and with the low lighting and quick movements of the dolphins, it was difficult to catch many good pictures. I got a couple marginal ones.
We all really enjoyed the show, and it’s definitely not to be missed . . . and they only offer it once per day.
After the show, we walked through the other exhibits. First was the River Exploration, with lots of colorful fresh and saltwater fish from around the world.
There were also otters,
alligators (which we couldn’t see very well through the crowd, but we’ve seen enough of them in Florida!), and the ever-popular Piranha.
They really look harmless!
Next up was the Tropical Reef, where we saw more colorful fish,
and even more colorful coral.
Our last stop was the Ocean Voyager Exhibit, which is the largest tank in the world. It’s 3 football fields long, and I can’t remember how many gallons of water it holds, but it’s a LOT.
They have 4 whale sharks in this tank, which are the largest fish in the ocean. These guys are still juveniles, too – they are not anywhere near full grown yet!
There are also several giant manta rays, and they were really interesting to watch – so graceful as they just glide along in the water.
There was one that kept doing somersaults in front of the glass – it was pretty cool!
The other fish in the tank just follow along behind the big whale sharks . . . apparently they are not threatened at all.
I could have sat and watched these guys all afternoon.
We were just in time to watch the whale sharks get fed, and if they hadn’t had somebody there talking about it, we almost wouldn’t have noticed. There were people in rafts on the surface dropping scoops of food into the water for each of the 4 whale sharks. They swam along behind the raft with their mouth open, sucking in the food and water. They are called filter feeders, because the filter the food out of the water and then blow the water back out through their gills. It was pretty cool to watch!
Bryce was getting hungry then, too, so we decided to get an early dinner of burgers and shakes at Johnny Rockets across the street.
It was a pretty good day spent playing tourist in Atlanta!