Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center: Exploring the Wonders of the Ocean
If you’re looking for a fun and educational experience in Virginia, the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center is a must-visit destination. Located in Virginia Beach, this world-class facility is home to over 12,000 animals from 700 different species, making it one of the largest aquariums in the United States. From sharks to sea turtles and everything in between, this facility offers a unique opportunity to explore the ocean’s wonders and learn about the importance of marine conservation.
History of the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center
The Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center was established in 1986 and has since become a popular attraction for locals and tourists alike. The facility underwent a significant expansion in 2001, adding a 300,000-gallon tank and a new exhibit space. The center’s mission is to inspire marine environment conservation through education, research, and sustainable practices.
Exhibits and Attractions
The Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center has a wide variety of exhibits and attractions that offer something for visitors of all ages. Here are a few of the highlights:
- The Marsh Pavilion
The Marsh Pavilion is a 10,000-square-foot exhibit showcasing the diverse habitats in Virginia’s marshes, including marshlands, swamps, and wetlands. Visitors can observe various animals, including otters, alligators, and snakes, as they explore the different environments.
- The Restless Planet
The Restless Planet exhibit takes visitors on a journey through time to explore the history of the Earth and the forces that shape our planet. Visitors can experience an earthquake simulator and see fossils of prehistoric animals, including a megalodon shark.
- The Virginia Coast Gallery
The Virginia Coast Gallery offers a glimpse into the underwater world of Virginia’s coast, including its diverse marine life and shipwrecks. Visitors can watch a live diver feed the fish and learn about the different fishing gear used in the region.
- The Red Sea Tunnel
The Red Sea Tunnel is one of the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center’s most popular attractions. Visitors can walk through a tunnel through a 70,000-gallon tank filled with colorful coral and tropical fish, including sharks and stingrays.
- The Adventure Park
For visitors looking for a more active experience, the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center also offers an Adventure Park. The park features zip lines, rope bridges, and other challenging obstacles that provide a unique perspective on the exhibits.
Education and Conservation
In addition to its exhibits and attractions, the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center is committed to education and conservation in addition to its shows and attractions. The center offers a variety of educational programs for visitors of all ages, including guided tours, hands-on activities, and interactive exhibits. The center also participates in research and conservation efforts, including studying the migration patterns of sea turtles and working to protect endangered species.
Plan Your Visit
If you’re planning a visit to the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, there are a few things to keep in mind. The center is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, with extended hours during the summer months. Admission prices vary based on age and membership status, with discounts available for military personnel and Virginia residents. The center also offers a variety of dining options and a gift shop where visitors can purchase souvenirs and educational materials.