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Baltimore Aquarium Review

Discussion in 'United States' started by mweb08, 13 Mar 2010.

  1. mweb08

    mweb08 Well-Known Member

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    Visited the National Aquarium in Baltimore today and and my girlfriend and I had a great time. Sorry in advance for not mentioning species names for the most part. Pics later as well.

    Oh, and before I get to that, a dolphin was born there today. Didn't see it though.

    First off, this aquarium, which is even cool to look at from the outside, is broken up into 3 pavilions, Pier 3, Pier 4, and the Glass Pavilion. I will go in that order since that's how I did it.

    As you walk in, you are greeted by a large waterfall coming from the Australia exhibit, which is in the Glass Pavilion. It's a cool view, but from that perspective, you wouldn't know it was part of the Australia exhibit unless you were familiar with the aquarium. Then you walk through the ticket area and have your choice of which pavilion to enter. Obviously we went into Pier 3, which is the main section of the aquarium. It has 5 levels.

    Level one is called Wing in the Water and features a a good sized open water with viewing from all around, and with the water going underneath the walkways as well (they're not clear). Various rays, some quite large, a few smaller sharks, some large fish, and a green sea turtle who was rescued inhabit this area. The turtle wasn't seen this time though, so not sure what's up with that. There are also some views into the bottom of the open ocean section which is a loop exhibit featuring various sharks. Escalators take you up from there, and this tank can be seen from the higher levels up to 4, which is pretty cool. There's also a whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling.

    Level two is called Maryland: Mountains to the Sea. It obviously features local fish, turtles, etc. Not a very big section, has maybe 5 or so decent sized exhibits that show both land and water with very strong detail and appearance imo.

    Level three is called Surviving Through Adaptation. Multiple tanks here with mostly smaller fish that have obviously adapted in some way. I think the Giant Octopus was in this section, but maybe not. Good quality tanks here as well, but the most forgettable section imo, so sorry for the lack of info.

    Level 4 is broken up into two small sections and two decent sized ones. There's the sea cliffs featuring a solid puffin exhibit featuring about 4 different species of birds. Then the Kelp Forest which has one nice good sized tank with many species inside. Next is the Pacific Coral Reef which has many medium to small tanks along with one pretty big one if I recall correctly. Lastly is the Amazon River Forest which is really nice imo. This also features land/water exhibits which have very nice detail and appearance imo. There's one very large tank in here that features Pygmy Marmosets in the rain forest, and dwarf caimans, rays, various turtles, and of course many types of fish, large and small. It's very well done. There's also a nice side by side exhibit showing the difference between high water and low water in the same location. The low water side has tree boas, tree frogs, a tarantula, Suriname toad, and something else.

    Level 5 is the Upland Tropical Rain Forest along with the Hidden Life exhibit. The Rain Forest is pretty large and displays an impressive canopy along with streams and pools of still water for the various birds, Golden Lion Tamarins, fish and turtles. Also 5 Three-toed Sloths including a baby! The mom and baby even went for a lap around the netting of the roof, which is a rather large section. I had never seen a sloth move around so much, quite neat! This is a very good immersion exhibit imo which allows one to go into the canopy and walk at the ground level. I would guess it's about 45 feet tall at it's highest point. It's shaped like a triangle with what would normally be the bottom of the triangle at the side of the building if that makes sense. So it slopes up or down depending on where you are. It really look great, but it can be hard to see all the free flying birds along with the tamarins. Would be nice if they added a few more species. Overall, maybe one of the better rain forest buildings around. The Hidden Life section shows off their poisonous frog collection along with some snakes, lizards, and other frogs/toads.

    After you exit the that area, you take the escalator down to the top of the Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit. This is a very large loop exhibit which you can see from above the water and at various highers as you take the ramp down about 35-40 feet. Many species of fish in here as well as some rays and eels. Some of this fish basically do laps in schools, while others hang out in specific areas. The coral itself looks good as well. It's pretty cool to walk down or up and see the tank from different points of view. Below that are some life sized shark cutouts which do a good job giving people a perspective on their size. Below that is the open ocean tank which is also a loop, this one being about 15 feet tall, and is the exhibit that can be seen from the main area of level one which I mentioned earlier. Nurse Sharks, Sandtigers, Sawfish, and Zebra Sharks were some of the species in there. There was also an employee with a sawfish saw that you could touch.

    Ok, onto Pier 4 which will be brief. They have the dolphin pool here, which is also where they have the show. Decent sized pool, but being indoors and rather plain looking, doesn't measure up looks wise or viewing wise to the outdoor dolphin exhibits at Sea World. No shows today due to the birth of the calf. Other than that, there's a cafe, shop, atrium, children's discovery gallery, and the temporary exhibit, which is Jellies Invasion: Oceans Out of Balance. Some very cool jellyfish in here and nice presentation, not a large section though.

    Lastly, there is the Glass Pavilion which is comprised of a cafe, shop, 4-D Immersion Theater, Animal Planet Gallery, the entrance, and Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes. This Australia exhibit is truly beautiful imo. It has the large waterfall, a center pool and stream which lead to the fall along with another one facing the exhibits. There's also great rock work, plenty of plants and trees, and makes for a great aviary for the many birds living in there. Very good immersion exhibit imo. There's multiple smaller reptile tanks built into the rock work before you get to the main part of the exhibit. Once you get to the main area, you're likely to see some birds and will also come up to a good sized tank that goes up to about eye level and has many fish and turtles in it. There's another tank shortly thereafter which among other things features Archerfish. There was a demonstration being held there with them which I got to take part in. Basically I held up a cricket over the water and the fish shoot water up at it with impressive accuracy and speed. This is a hunting technique of theirs which was really cool to see and even get hands on with. There's one more decent sized tank with various fish and turtles before you get to a larger tank with freshwater crocs along with fish and turtles. All the tank in here are quite nice. I missed them, but there's also apparently Grey-headed Flying Fox in this exhibit. Overall, a really great exhibit imo.

    So that's pretty much it. Some will disagree, but I put this aquarium above Shedd which I visited this past summer. Both immersion exhibits are really impressive, the land/water tanks are mostly really nice, and the tall Atlantic and open ocean loop tanks are really cool to check out. No beluga's like Shedd has though.
     
  2. mweb08

    mweb08 Well-Known Member

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    Cool link on how Australia came together:

    http://aqua.org/australia/buildingaustralia.html

    I should have mentioned that the vast majority of the plant life in this and the rainforest are real and they have a clear glass surroundings.

    The exhibit is 120 feet at it's highest and 64,500 square feet.
     
  3. geomorph

    geomorph Well-Known Member 10+ year member Premium Member

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    mweb, thank you for your review! I visited here a few years ago and enjoyed it, but I had no idea they had sloths in the rainforest, let alone 5 of them! I need to put the camera down once in awhile and read more signs that might tip me off to what is inside!
     
  4. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member 15+ year member Premium Member

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    @mweb08: nice review! I can't wait to visit this aquarium sometime in late July, and just about everyone from ZooChat who has visited there thinks that it is one of the very best aquariums in North America.
     
  5. mweb08

    mweb08 Well-Known Member

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    Well one was just born a few weeks ago and another was born about 2 years ago, so they likely only had 3 when you were there.
     
  6. mweb08

    mweb08 Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    Pics are up including the recent uploads of the Australia exhibit.