New England Aquarium

Whenever we mentioned our plan for a trip to Boston, the first reaction always seemed to be… you should visit the aquarium because it is amazing. Apparently, this place is pretty awe-inspiring and if we visited, angels would sing, stars would rain from the sky, and we’d leave glowing with contented happiness.

I kid you not… we heard nothing but excited and breathless reviews about the New England Aquarium; and, after our crappy experience in San Francisco, we were looking to renew our faith in the aquarium industry.

It didn’t disappoint… and we even visited on a Sunday when half of the city of Boston and a third of the population from surrounding towns were there on a visit; but, even though it was busy, it still felt like we had lots of room to explore and could walk around at our own pace without being shoved or photobombed.

The first thing you see upon entry are gads of penguins: Little Blue Penguins, African Penguins, and Rockhopper Penguins. To me, these are the meerkats of the aquatic world and in our first glimpses, we saw every “best side” angle these creatures had to offer. I swear one even raised one eyebrow and winked at me as I gazed at him from afar.

The next thing you notice is the Giant Ocean Tank: a massive cylindrical glass column that spans the height of the building and is circled by a low angle walkway. Behind the glass is a saltwater aquatic environment designed to show the creatures that live at various depths of the Caribbean. Starting at the bottom you see the bottom feeders and low light fish. As you work your way to the top you get more colour and variety in both coral and creatures. From above the tank, we watched turtles glide at the surface and chase the divers who were in the water to clean the coral.

Along the walls behind the Giant Ocean exhibit are various educational tanks showing different ecosystems. And, while everyone else seemed to enjoy the violent displays like piranhas, the feeding anaconda, and an electric eel that everyone rushed whenever its electricity levels went up, we quietly enjoyed the sea dragons, sea horses, jellies, frogs, and turtles.

For La Niña, none of this was as exciting as the Shark and Ray Touch Tank where rays zipped by repeatedly looking for a back scratch. Unlike the SF Aquarium, where the rays and sharks seemed to be stressed, this exhibit had a section far away from people where the creatures could disappear if they wanted peace and quiet (all the sharks were hiding there). I swear the rays that kept “swinging by” for a pass did so because they were looking to be touched.

There’s one exhibit that I deliberately left out of this post because it really deserves its own entry: the seals. It’s coming next.

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