The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta was the largest complex of sea life on land in the world at the beginning of the 21st century. Within its 10 million gallons (38 million liters) of marine and salt water tanks are contained 700 species of animals and fish, housing more than 100,000 individual specimens. This remarkable place is the 31st stop in the travel series “Off The Beaten Path”.
From 2005 to 2012, the Georgia Aquarium located in the southeastern part of the United States, in the state of Georgia, ranked as the world’s largest facility of sea life. It would then be surpassed in size by the Marine Life Park in Singapore.
Some of the most popular species that can be seen at the Aquarium consist of the beluga whales, bottlenose dolphins, California sea lions, manta rays, and whale sharks.
The Georgia Aquarium can be found in downtown Atlanta, on land donated by the Coca-Cola Company, just north of the Centennial Olympic Park.
The main building has a blue metal and glass exterior. It was designed to evoke a giant ark breaking through a wave.
The Aquarium encompasses 550,000 square feet the equivalent to 13 acres (5.1 hectares) of covered space. It originally had exhibits that held 8 million United States gallons (30 million liters) of both fresh and sea water. Expansion and redesigns of original exhibits, would provide an additional 2 million gallons later on.
The original layout of the Aquarium was completed after 27 months of construction and consisted of 60 animal habitats. Today, the Georgia Aquarium consists of 7 separate galleries, with over 70 separate amazing habitats.
Each of the galleries consists of a separate environment. There are the Ocean Voyager, Cold Water Quest, Tropical Diver, River Scout, Dolphin Coast, A Discovery Zone, Pier 225 and Aquanaut Adventure.
If a visitor wishes, they can even dive or swim with a number of manta rays and whale sharks in the Ocean Voyager exhibit, the world’s largest aquarium habitat, at 6.3 million gallons (24 million liters).
River Scout has North American fish on display from an overhead river, where fish are seen from the bottom up. One can also see unusual fresh water fish, like electric eels and piranha.
Tropical Diver features mainly Indo-Pacific tropical fish with an artificial reef, although the facility does grow its own coral. Visitors can see clownfish, jellyfish, red lionfish, and seahorses.
Cold Water Quest has creatures from the polar and temperate regions of the world. It contains most of the mammals in the aquarium’s collection. One can see beluga whales, African penguins, weedy sea dragons, Japanese spider crabs and sea otters.
Over the years there has been the additions, to the number of exhibits.
Pier 225 gallery consists of California sea lions.
The remarkable Dolphin Tales Show combines instinctual animal behaviors with a dash of theatrics, that allows the telling of a story, showing the special relationship between humans and sea life.
The animated “Deepo’s Undersea 3D Wondershow” provides a compelling story, about protecting animals in their natural environment.
For tourists who desire a closer up experience of sea life, there are a number of animal encounter programs, that allow behind the scene excursions. One will be able to meet individual dolphins, penguins and sea otters.
The Georgia Aquarium became a reality in 2001, through a $250 million USD (United States Dollar) donation, from the foundation of Bernard Marcus. As a local businessman and founder of Home Depot, he provided the majority of the original funding, to begin operations.
Additional corporate contributions of $40 million USD, allowed the facility to open without debt. Although admission charges are among the highest priced for a non-profit, attendance did not disappoint. There were a million visitors in the first 100 days.
The numbers continued to grow over the years. By August 2006, the numbers reached 3 million and by the following May it topped 5 million. The milestone of 10 million, was reached in June 2009. About 2.5 million people visit on an annual basis now.
The Aquarium’s founding president and its executive director until 2008 was Jeff Swanagan. He is largely credited with the creation of this Atlanta treasure. He directed the actual design of the facility and the early obtaining of exhibit specimens.
In 2018, the aquarium announced its largest expansion plan since its original opening. At a cost of $100 million USD, it features a new 1-million-gallon tank saltwater shark gallery and redesigned main entrance. It is supposed to be completed by the autumn of 2020. Visitors will be able to view tiger sharks, Sand tiger sharks, Sandbar sharks, Silvertip sharks and Scalloped hammerhead sharks.
The Georgia Aquarium is part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums as well as the Smithsonian Affiliations program.
Location: Georgia Aquarium is situated in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. One can find the complex near Centennial Park and World of Coca-Cola.
Address: 225 Baker St, Atlanta, Georgia 30313-1809
Phone Number: 404-581-4000
Buying on line will save visitors at least 10%
11:00 AM – 4 PM $28.95 – $32.95 USD.
Reduced priced tickets can be had depending on arrival times.
Before 11:00 A.M. all tickets are $30.95 USD.
After 4:00 PM Imagination Nights $26.95 USD.
Behind the scenes tours and interactive experiences are priced separately.
Days and Hours of Operations: The Georgia Aquarium is open 365 days a year.
Monday through Friday
10:00 AM. to 9:00 PM.
Saturday and Sunday
9:00 AM. to 9:00 PM.
Offers a variety of items for lunch or an early dinner. There is a variety of sandwiches on the menu, salads, pasta, pizza, and a number of desserts.
Georgia Aquarium houses two complete gift shops, which offer a vast number of related collectibles.
There is plenty on-site deck parking adjacent to the aquarium, which is reasonably priced.
Is available in Atlanta, just a few minutes from the Georgia Aquarium
- The Aquarium is less crowded during the earlier morning hours.
- Visitors will find fewer people at the site during weekdays.
- You will need at least 3 to 4 hours, to fully enjoy the exhibits and experiences offered.