The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is certainly a must-see attraction if you're looking for a fun and educational experience in Virginia. This world-class facility in Virginia Beach is home to over 12,000 animals from 700 different species, making it one of the largest aquariums in the United States. From fascinating sharks to adorable sea turtles and everything in between, this facility offers a unique opportunity to explore the ocean's wonders and learn about the significance of marine conservation.
Established in 1986, the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center has become a favorite destination for locals and tourists. After a significant expansion in 2001, which added 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.
The Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center has various exhibits and attractions catering to visitors of all ages. For example, the Marsh Pavilion is a 10,000-square-foot exhibit showcasing Virginia's marshes' diverse habitats, including marshlands, swamps, and wetlands. Visitors can observe various animals, such as otters, alligators, and snakes, as they explore the different environments.
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 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.
One of the center's most popular attractions is The Red Sea Tunnel, where visitors can walk through a tunnel through a 70,000-gallon tank filled with colorful coral and tropical fish, including sharks and stingrays. For visitors looking for a more active experience, the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center offers an Adventure Park. The park features zip lines, rope bridges, and other challenging obstacles that provide a unique perspective on the exhibits.
Aside from its exhibits and attractions, the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center is committed to education and conservation. The center offers various educational programs for visitors of all ages, including guided tours, hands-on activities, and interactive exhibits. It also participates in research and conservation efforts, such as studying the migration patterns of sea turtles and working to protect endangered species.
The Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center opens daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. The aquarium has 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 has various dining options and a gift shop where visitors and tourists can purchase souvenirs and educational materials.
In conclusion, the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center is a fantastic destination that provides a unique opportunity to explore the ocean's wonders and learn about the importance of marine conservation. Take advantage of this fun and educational experience!