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Day Trip — New England Aquarium

  • Rockhopper Penguin
  • Northern fur seal
  • A view of the top of the Giant Ocean Tank

Day Trip: New England Aquarium

From penguins to jellies, from sharks to whales, and from seals to giant turtles, the New England Aquarium in Boston is the region’s top destination for viewing ocean-dwelling creatures. The aquarium’s main attraction, the 200,000-gallon Giant Ocean Tank simulating a Caribbean coral reef, offers an expansive look at many of these critters, including over 130 species of fish. The 40-foot wide tank, which at its deepest runs 26 feet down, is surrounded by a spiraling ramp from top to bottom, with 67 windows and 52 viewing bays, giving you multiple angles to examine the sealife.

The aquarium has recently completed a 10-month renovation, making the whole area around the tank accessible to wheelchairs and strollers; windows were also widened to give children easier viewing points. Other improvements include a lifelike coral reef made by hand and painted by aquarium artists, while the number of fish has nearly tripled, to over 2,000. One of 40 new species is the nimble blacknose shark. As well, iPads mounted along the tank’s viewing windows have interactive fish ID applications to help you identify what you’re looking at, including exotic species like the goatfish and parrotfish.

There’s much else to see at the aquarium. Penguins, temporarily displaced during the renovation, have returned to their 150,000 gallon exhibit at the base of the giant tank. The three featured species are Little Blue Penguins, the smallest type of penguin; the African Penguin, known for a loud call similar to a donkey’s bray; and the Rockhopper Penguin, the only species known to dive feet-first into water. Elsewhere in the aquarium, you can see Atlantic Harbor seals, numerous species of shark, the North Atlantic Right Whale and dolphins.

Tickets are $24.95 for adults and $17.95 for children; they can be purchased online at www.neaq.org. You’ll find additional information at that web site, and you can also call (617) 973-5200.

Directions: To get to the New England Aquarium, located at 1 Central Wharf in Boston, take the MassPike east from the Holyoke/Springfield entrance off Interstate 91. After 89 miles, take exit A-B-C on the left toward South Station/I-93 South. Then take exit 24A toward South Station, keep left at the fork and continue toward Atlantic Avenue. Continue onto Atlantic and keep to the right. Turn right onto Milk Street after half a mile, then take a slight right at Old Atlantic Avenue. The aquarium will be on your left.

— Marc E. Latour

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