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Don't miss Georgia Aquarium on your next trip to Atlanta

June 21, 2012 By CityPASS

Not only is Georgia Aquarium a world record holder in terms of size, it's the only aquarium in the U.S. where you'll have the chance to see whale sharks and manta rays. But this top attraction isn't purely about entertainment; numerous conservation and education efforts at the aquarium support its ultimate goal of conserving aquatic animals all over the world. Here are some reasons why you'll definitely want to include Georgia Aquarium the next time you visit Atlanta.

Guinness Book of World Record Recognition

  • Georgia Aquarium's marquee gallery, Ocean Voyager, is the world's largest aquatic habitat, holding 6.3 million gallons of water.
  • Georgia Aquarium holds more water than any other aquarium—more than 10 million gallons.
  • The Aquarium houses the most aquatic life in the world—tens of thousands more than any other aquarium.
  • The 604,000 square-foot facility is larger than any other aquarium in the world—the space is equal to that of approximately 230 average American homes.

Ocean Voyager

  • It's the world record-holding gallery, but visitors love it for more than just its size. The gallery also features an "underwater" experience where visitors are surrounded by whale sharks, manta rays, schools of grouper, and countless other species of fish in a 100-foot tunnel. The Ocean Voyager experience also features a theater window where visitors can sit down, relax and enjoy the view of the whole gallery.
  • The aquatic animals featured in this gallery are very special as well. The whale sharks and manta rays are the most notable; Georgia Aquarium is the only aquarium outside of Asia to house whale sharks, the largest fish in the world, and the first and only aquarium in the United States to house manta rays.

AT&T Dolphin Tales

  • Featured in a 1.8 million gallon gallery, the dolphins captivate audiences in a 25-minute Broadway-style show.
  • Emmy award-winning producers and directors developed the production in concert with a world-class team of talented individuals, assembled from the worlds of television, film and Broadway. The original score was recorded by a 61-piece orchestra in New York City.
  • Georgia Aquarium's AT&T Dolphin Tales gallery and show is dedicated to inspiring memorable connections between humans and dolphins in order to create a greater understanding of these magnificent creatures and to develop a lasting legacy for dolphin conservation.

The world's most engaging Aquarium
The Aquarium offers many opportunities to get up close to the animals, interact with them and even touch them. Many gallery windows simulate the experience of being face-to-face with aquatic animals, but they also offer chances to feel even closer to the habitats of the animals by "popping up" inside them.

  • Guests can feel like they are in South Africa with the penguins when they crawl through a tunnel and pop up in the middle of the African penguin habitat.
  • Guests can also feel up-close to "man-eaters" when they go to the pop up windows in the piranha habitat.
  • There are also opportunities for guests to get hands-on with aquatic animals in several galleries.
  • One of the Aquarium's six galleries, Georgia Explorer, offers guests many opportunities to touch aquatic animals such as cownose rays, bonnethead sharks, horseshoe crabs, sea stars and shrimp.
  • In Cold Water Quest, guests have the chance to touch & explore sea anemones, an extraordinary and exciting experience.

Educational Experiences
Many zoos, aquariums and museums offer interesting field trip experiences for students, but Georgia Aquarium offers a whole new perspective on the facility for those visiting the Aquarium.

  • Students visit the Learning Loop, an interactive experience which includes behind-the-scenes views of galleries, animal encounters, activities and research applicable to real-world situations.
  • To date nearly 400,000 students from pre-kindergarten to graduate level have experienced the educational programs.
  • The Aquarium also offers more specialized programs such as camps, classes and overnight sleepovers for families.

Certified Atlanta Autism Center

Georgia Aquarium has become the first aquarium to be designated a Certified Autism Center. This certification means that any visitors on the autism spectrum or with other sensory disorders can enjoy the best possible visit that caters to their needs.

What’s Available for Those With Sensory Disorders?

  • Free sensory bags are equipped with noise canceling headsets, sunglasses for those sensitive to light, a pair of fidget devices and an "I need/I feel" card, which may be used to help nonverbal individuals communicate with staff. Individuals may also add a weighted lap pad and/or a bouncy band for chairs to their kit when checking out the sensory bag. Sensory bags can be checked out at the Point of Sales desk located at the main entrance or at the Information Desk located in the main atrium.
  • Designated Quiet Zones-Designated quiet zones have been established throughout the Aquarium for families to use to help individuals decompress. These areas may be identified on the Aquarium map and via signage.

Learn more at the official Georgia Aquarium website.

Behind-the-Scenes Experiences

  • One-hour behind-the-scenes tours are available for those who want to see how the Aquarium operates and to get a different perspective of several galleries.
  • If you really want to dive into behind-the-scenes at the Aquarium, you can actually dive in! You can explore the water with whale sharks and manta rays with the Journey with the Gentle Giants program.

Conservation & Research
At the heart of everything at the Aquarium is conservation. Research is done both at the Aquarium and in the field, and every bit of it is working toward conserving aquatic animals all over the world. Here is just a taste of the conservation projects:

  • The 4R program promotes the rehabilitation of aquatic life through the donations of individuals wishing to help conserve ocean species. The 4R program—Rehabilitation, Responsibility, Rescue and Research—allows researchers to focus on one project at a time. With this program they can be as thorough as possible with one species and can also allow individuals to see the positive effects of their financial contributions.
  • Seafood Savvy is a program that helps visitors be conscious of their seafood-eating decisions. The Aquaruim educates about what types of seafood are best to eat and which are overfished, threatened, or are the subject of dangerous fishing practices. Visitors receive a takeaway document that they can consult while ordering at their favorite restaurant!
  • The Correll Center for Aquatic Animal Health is the first and only of its kind: a veterinarian teaching hospital specializing in wildlife medicine and veterinary pathology that is also part of an aquarium. The Aquarium partners with the University of Georgia to provide the best animal care while also training interns, residents, and veterinary students. The equipment in the center is state-of-the-art and able to be easily transported poolside if necessary.

All photos courtesy Georgia Aquarium.

Other fabulous aquariums that are part of CityPASS® programs include Shedd Aquarium, Adventure Aquarium, New England Aquarium, Downtown Aquarium, and Aquarium of the Bay.

(Photo courtesy Georgia Aquarium)

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