MD -- Baltimore -- Natl Aquarium:
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- AQUAR_220528_04.JPG: Rebuilding Lost Marshes
- AQUAR_220528_05.JPG: Getting Involved
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- Wikipedia Description: National Aquarium in Baltimore
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The National Aquarium in Baltimore is a public aquarium located at 501 E Pratt St. in the Inner Harbor area of Baltimore, Maryland, USA. It was opened in 1981 and was constructed during the urban renewal period of Baltimore. The aquarium has an annual attendance of 1.6 million to see its collection of 10,500 specimens of 560 different species. Particular attractions include the dolphin display, rooftop rainforest, and central ray pool, and multiple-story shark tanks. The National Aquarium in Baltimore is widely considered to be one of the best in the United States, if not the whole world. Coastal Living named it the #1 aquarium in the U.S. in 2006.
The National Aquarium in Baltimore is not to be confused with the National Aquarium in Washington, D.C.; however, the National Aquarium in Washington D.C. has been operated by the National Aquarium in Baltimore since 2003. As of 2005, the National Aquarium was the largest tourist attraction in the state of Maryland.
The aquarium consists of two buildings joined by a single enclosed walkway/bridge. The larger of the two buildings contains the main gallery, which overlooks a pool occupied by sharks(including a blind zebra shark named Zoe), rays (southern stingrays, butterfly stingrays, and roughtail stingrays), tarpon, and a green sea turtle (Calypso). The gallery itself begins with a series of upward spiralling floors connected by long escalators, featuring at first fish from Maryland, first showing a stream in the mountains of western Maryland, and ending with the ocean, but then featuring fish that show off vital skills for survival needed in their various environments. At the top of this spiral is the aforementioned rainforest exhibit, which contains several animals found in rainforests, such as the Amazon. This part of the aquarium contains an elevated platform for bird/monkey viewing and a cave of various glass enclosed displays of reptiles, amphibians, and terrestrial arthropods. This exhibit exits back into the main gallery, which then goes into a downward spiral. You are then surrounded by the Atlantic Coral Reef filled with fish that would be found anywhere from closer to shore (the the loop end closer to you as you exit the escalator) to out into the trench and open ocean. Below the ACR is found sharks. In this exhibit there are sand tiger sharks, sandbar sharks, nurse sharks, and sawfish. You then appear under the Wings in the Water display where you can watch the rays, turtle, sharks, and fish under the water.
The smaller building, opened in 1990, features the marine mammal display and a dolphinarium, which holds dolphin shows at various times. It also holds a temporary exhibit on assorted frogs called "A Chorus of Colors" based on the book. Both buildings have two gift shops and a cafe each.
The Aquarium completed the renovation and a multi-million dollar expansion on December 16, 2005; the expanded portion -- featuring an "Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes" exhibit -- is 65,400 ft² (6,000 m²). The exterior of the new expansion features a glass-enclosed interactive area that will teach visitors about bayscaping, bird-box building, the nationally recognized National Aquarium in Baltimore's Marine Animal Rescue Program, water quality testing, marine debris issues, and wetland restoration.
Inside the expanded portion of the Aquarium directly in the main entrance, a 35-foot (10 m) waterfall that was modeled from an actual waterfall in a Maryland state park is the prominent display and is also visible from outside the Aquarium. Also inside the expanded portion, there is a recreation of an Australian habitat. The Umbrawarra Gorge of Australia is carefully depicted inside the upper portion of the expanded building, and the exhibit depicts lands of fire, drought, and flood. Aboriginal artwork is also found in the gorge exhibit and is based on actual Aboriginal artwork that has been found in Australia. These images depict aboriginal interpretations of the land that they live on.
According to the December 2005 issue of Baltimore magazine, the expansion cost $74.6 million, used 33,000 square feet (3,100 m²) of glass and rose 120 feet into the air. According to a December 9, 2005, Baltimore Sun article regarding the expansion, the National Aquarium expected a 400,000-person increase in visitors by the end of 2006 as a result of the expansion and had a goal of bringing in 2 million visitors by 2010. Officials of the Baltimore Area Convention & Visitors Association hoped that the expected increase in the number of aquarium visitors would boost the number of overnight leisure travelers and businesses at the Baltimore Convention Center, which since its $151 million 1997 expansion had not been meeting projections. It was also revealed that multiple themes were test-marketed for the expansion before the Australian theme was approved; the original themes were the Florida Everglades, the ring of fire in Thailand, and Arctic birds complete with an iceberg. Lyn Frankel, senior director of marketing at the Aquarium, stated that the expansion was only the beginning of the Aquarium's expansion plans over the next 10 years. The aquarium recently opened a 4D theater for 2008.
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