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New England Aquarium Open Air Exhibits
Non-enclosed exhibits are always popular, draw big crowds, and the aquarium has several.
All the way in the back, a pool features Northern fur seals and California sea lions and overlooks the Boston Harbor. Feeding time draws the largest crowds. The fur seals hail from the Arctic seas and are the largest seals, the males much larger than the females, with a dense mantle of fur covering the neck and shoulders. There are believed to over a million in the wild currently but in the 18th and 19th centuries, their population was almost annhilated by hunters seeking the fur for clothing. Laws now regulate hunting.
The pool, which is nothing special to say the least, also is home to California sea lions, intelligent and trainable and often part of commercial enterprises performing tricks. These seals also are vocal, communicating with loud barking, and are among the fastest of seals maintaing speed of 25 mph.
The other open air exhibits are for the penguins, the most popular the southern rockhopper species, in a colony of 80 surrounding the giant ocean tank. The rockhoppers are among the smallest of penguins, distinguished by their long yellow eyebrows and, believe it or not, pink feet. Unlike most species, they hop from rock to rock and are the only penguins to enter the sea feet first. The rockhoppers are the most frequent choice for popular media, appearing on everything from a Fleetwood Mac album cover to the Happy Feet movies, voice courtesy the late Robin Williams.
Having seen penguins in several aquariums, I must admit that I have never seen one actually move much less hop. They seem to just squat immobile. But they certainly are cute.
New England Aquarium Featured Exhibits
The seadragon ( image 1 ) is the marine emblem of the State of South Australia, home territory to this close relative of the seahorse. An endangered creature, it is one of the prized exhibits at this aquarium. Small and slow, their major defense is camoflage - they look like floating seaweed to predators, and can even change color to blend. The seadragon is one of only a few animals with males as the caretaker for fertilized eggs.
The jellyfish ( image 2 ) exhibit is stated to be one of the aquarium's prizes. These brightly colored creatures have been around for upwards of 500 million years, the oldest multi-organ animal on earth. They are not fish at all, classified as a free-swimming mammal. The body is comprised of tentacles attached to a bell shaped gelatinous structure containing nerve ends. The central tube is multifuncitional predominantly for digestion but also reproduction.
The electric eel ( image 3 ) was one of our favorite exhibits. Not really an eel, but an air breathing animal unique in classification and a relative of the common catfish. It lives deep in the ocean where darkness has caused effective blindness. Much of the body is like a big battery. It senses available food by sending out electric impulses which cause spasms of the prey, detected by the eel as lunch. The aquarium has rigged the enclosure to detect these electric impulses and light up a sign ( check the upper left hand corner of the image ). Watch the eel, watch the sign, watch a small fish disappear.
The anaconda ( images 4.5 ) is a massive snake of the boa constrictor family housed in a relatively small enclosure at this aquarium. The python is believed to be the longest snake but in overall girth the title goes to the anaconda. It is native to South and Central America, lives in ponds and along lakes and streams. They do not crush their prey but rather coil around and suffocate the victim, able to sense when the heart beat stops. Then the jaw disarticulates and the meal is swallowed whole. The surprise is the small head compared to the massive body.
New England Aquarium
Boston's aquarium is the city's fourth, opening in 1969, and currently receiving more than 1.3 million visitors a year ( it seemed most came on the day of my visit ). It is conveniently located on the rejuvenated waterfront adjacent multiple large hotels, very near a major stop on the hop-on hop-off busses, near to the Quincy Market area, and with an eponymous subway stop. The line just to buy tickets is long and the tickets expensive, over $25. The building is crowded and very noisy, especially in the side rooms with low ceilings.
The centerpiece of the aquarium is a giant central ocean tank, 200,000 US gallons and at least three stories high. It is home to seemingly innumerable species of fish with a central Caribbean style coral reef. Featured are barracudas, sharks, giant turtles, stingrays, and schools of smaller fish. The tank is surrounded by a circular walkway with windows into the tank, which is open at the top.
On each level, surrounding galleries contain in-wall and floor mounted exhibits with lots of descriptive placards offering considerable ( perhaps too much ) information. These include some of the most prized residents which tragically are not given to posing for their pictures.
New England Aquarium
Among the best places to take kids in Boston is the New England Aquarium. The featured attraction is the brand new, giant fish tank, complete with spiral ramp all the way to the top so you can explore the tremendous varieties of fish that live at the various depths. At the top, you can look down on the whole tank for an entirely different perspective. In addition to the big tank, there are penguin displays, a sort of petting pool for kids to touch aquatic creatures, and an outdoor pen filled with seals and sea lions.
When you pay admission, you will receive a hand stamp, which allows you in-and-out privileges all day long (as long as you don't wash the stamp off). Should you plan to visit the Aquarium more than once in a year, the best value is to purchase an annual membership, which costs less than two admissions.
- Family Travel
I'LL ALWAYS REMEMBER THE SEALS
During the time that I lived in Boston I visited the aquarium on several occasions, mostly at night. My friend Tim and I loved to come here to watch the seals late at night after going out with friends. There are of course dozens of other sea creatures to stare at, but for me I will always remember the seals. When I moved to Wisconsin Tim gave me a stuffed seal as a remembrance of our evenings by the seals.
My very first trip here was back in 1991 when I came to Boston with the music department of my high school. This was one of the touristy spots they dragged us to. We all had a great time of course. One of our favorite things there was the touch pond where we all got to pick up a starfish.
For me the cost of admission here is a bit steep for what you get.
General admission is $24.95 for an adult and $17.95 for children 3-11. There is also a special senior rate of $22.95.
The aquarium also offers whale watch tours for $45 for children under 11 and $35 for adults.
Don't miss the IMAX show while you are here. Prices start at $9.95 for children 3-11 and $7.95 for adults.
Check the website for combination ticket prices.
The aquarium in generally open during the cooler months from 9-5 Monday thru Friday and 9-6 Saturdays and Sundays. In the hot summer months the hours of operation are Monday thru Thrusday 9-6, Friday and Saturday 9-7 and Sunday 9-6.
- Family Travel
Visiting sea creatures
Located right here on the waterfront is the New England Aquarium. It's a great place to spend a few hours with their nice selection of sea creatures. There are three floors to explore and in the middle of the aquarium as you enter the main building is the Giant Ocean Tank a 23ft deep, 200,000 gallon artificial reef. It is lined with windows so you can take a glance into its depths.
The Aquarium has over 50 species of sea creatures. There are a few presentations and even a an IMAX theater.
- Family Travel
A great walk along the waterfront
While the aquarium itself is not dog friendly, the surrounding outdoor areas are wonderful. We enjoyed the seals and the stroll along the Harbor Walk. Parking is available nearby in the garage but can get expensive.
We visited the aquarium during my second trip to Boston in January 0f 2008. There's so much to see, and we arrived pretty late in the day. The staff were friendly enough to give us free admission for the next day. It was extremely helpful as there was a Jellyfish exhibit on at the time that we completely missed the first day. You can walk forever checking everything out and the giant tank in the middle of the aquarium is pretty cool. By far, the coolest would be the penguins who live in the middle as well - they have a ton of varieties. There are also a few sealions they have. Worth a trip, would be great especially with kids. Make sure you give yourself a good amount of time to check it all out though.
- Family Travel
Checking out the Penguins
This isn't my "favorite" aquarium since I have have my favorite Aquarium in Sydney. For the most part the only thing I enjoyed was the penguins which were rather amusing especially during feeding time. We came here on a Saturday(during a holiday weekend) and it was packed with tons of kids; big mistake on our part. The line to get tickets was long and I was already getting frustrated before we even got in. Inside the kids were crazy; runnijng aorund and backing up the walk ways. Getting around the aquarium became a nightmare especially with all the sidewalktanks (carriages). After we had had our fill of the penguins we decided to hightail it out of there for a less crowded scene.
**Basically expect a crowd if you visit on the weekend and lots of kids.**
- Road Trip
Check Out A Movie in IMAX
The Simons IMAX Theatre is a must see when in Bostion. Liz and I enjoy watching movies in Imax especially movies with a nautical theme. The Imax is relatively cheap at $10 for an adult ticket. The screens are huge and the 3-D films are a must see. On our last trip here we didn;t check out a mivie since we had already seen The Undersea Movie and the Dolphins and Whales Movie.
New England Aquarium
The New England Aquarium opened it's doors on June 20, 1969 and ever since that day has been a major attraction for visitors to Boston. Their website reports 1.3 million people visit them each year. There were three aquariums in Boston prior to it's opening in 1969. The Boston Aquarial Gardens opened in 1860, and was the first public aquarium in the world that was devoted to marine life. Following that was the Boston Aquarial Gardens and Zoolological Gardens then the South Boston Aquarium, which closed in 1954. The Aquarium has aquatic guests from all over the world, including sea turtles, rays, jelly fish, harbor seals, lobsters, octopus, penguins and a host of other species. Exhibits currently include the Marine Mammal Center, Atlantic Harbor Seals, Amazon Rain Forest, the Giant Ocean Tank, Gulf of Maine, Sea Dragons and Amazing Jellies. Oh, and who from Boston could forget the star of the old Aquarium commercials? Penguins! "I can walk like a penguin!" I loved that commercial when I was growing up. The Aquarium also has a whale watch that runs from early April to late October and lasts between 3-4 hours. Pricing for the Aquarium is $20.95 for adults, $12.95 for children 3-11, and $18.95 for seniors. Children under 3 are free. The whale watch is not included in your admission to the Aquarium. Forty years later the New England Aquarium is truly still a place where "It's Fun to Find Out!".
- Museum Visits
- Whale Watching
Fish and friends
New England Aquarium is a good way to spend half a day looking at the wonders of the seas, especially if you are travelling with children. The aquarium is located on the Boston waterfront, easily accessible with the public transportation.
There are seals, penguins and huge number of fish in the aquarium. The most interesting tank is located in the middle of the area; it is several storeys high and the walkway spirals around it. Various species of fish and other sea creatures swarm in it. Some of them are pretty big and a bit scary, too, so some children might get anxious. There is plethora of other, typically smaller, fish on the tanks circling around the big one.
As usual, there is a well-stocked shop that focuses mostly on toys, and a café with a nice view to harbour. Nothing spectacular on the menu, mostly snacks and beverages.
- Family Travel
The New England Aquarium
The New England Aquarium is the main drawing card to Boston's revitalized waterfront. It is a massive building containing over 15,000 forms of marine life. The central drawing piece here is a massive reef filled tank which has a corkscrew shaped pathway twisting around it. You cannot help noting that there are about a half dozen sharks swimming about the tank and wonder why they don't eat the fish. Well that is because divers feed them twice a day. Although the marine life here do not normally cohabitate, they seem to live quite peacefully here. On the surrounding the tank is filled with penguins that are playful and fun to watch. There are also massive jellyfish exhibit two stories in length that are amazing. As with most aquariums of this type, there are various exhibits that show you marine life in various parts of the world such as along the coral reefs, Artic, freshwater and Amazon. All of it is very interesting.
The New England Aquarium is pricy to visit with admission set at $16.00 for adults and $9.00 for children. It is open from 9am to 6pm during the summer. During the rest of the year it closes at 5pm.
- Family Travel
Nice small aquarium
This is a nice place to see in Boston if you're fond of wildlife as am I. The aquarium is small but they have some nice species exhibited which aren't so common in other aquariums. I particularly liked the jelly-fish exposition, the penguins (some kinds I had never seen in my life - not even in Animal Planet!) and the BIG turtles!
There's this big transparent tank (very deep) which is the main attraction where all kind of animals live together: sharks, eels, turtles, stingrays, all kinds of tropical fish.... there are people who sink in the tank 3-4 times a day to feed the bigger animals so they don't start eating each other, LOL.... scary!
Looking at this big pool (which is surrounded by a spiral ramp so you can appreciate it from all angles) is like seeing a small portion of the ocean, where many different animals live together "peacefully" in the same space. You can find the description & interesting facts about many of the species living in the tank printed in small slides around the pool.
Just a little tip if you're NOT fond of children (like me): DO NOT visit the aquarium during the weekend, as it will be packed with families who spend their weekend there: strollers everywhere, children running and yelling and crying and tapping on the glass of the tanks, etc. It can be really nerve wrecking and it won't let you enjoy your visit fully. I really regretted having left this visit for my last day in Boston, cause I didn't have any choice left: I either visited it on Saturday, or left town without having seen it. So I arrived early and buying the tickets was no problem, but the crowd inside WAS. If you hate crowds like me, you'd better go there in the middle of the week so you can be more peaceful. Now if you're traveling with your kids..... this is a nice option for you to spend a family day (you must be already used to dealing with the brats, anyway, LOL).
Oh, another tip: they have a very nice souvenir shop! You can find really cute things there (expensive, but nice!).
- Family Travel
- Whale Watching
Many Marine Mammals
With incredible emphasis on public awareness and conservation, this aquarium strives to protect marine wildlife and instilling a sense of awe in the beauty and delicacy of this fairly unknown and unencountered environment. Avoid weekends and Fridays.
General (Age 12+) $17.95
Seniors (60+) $15.95
Children (3-11) $9.95
IMAX Theatre Prices:
Winter Hours - Day after Labor Day - June 30
Monday-Friday: 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.
Saturday, Sunday, Holidays: 9 a.m.- 6 p.m.
Summer Hours - July 1 - Labor Day
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: 9 a.m.- 6 p.m.
Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Holidays: 9 a.m.- 7 p.m.
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