GIANTS Arrive to Ocean Realm


HULK. BERTHA. Our new Queensland groupers have some pretty BIG names to match these real BIG FISH!

We welcomed some new residents into Ocean Realm earlier this month as five Queensland groupers joined our aquarium family.  Three large adults, which weigh approximately 250 to 300 pounds each and range in length from 4 to 5.5 feet, and two juveniles, each weighing approximately 50 pounds and measuring between 2 to 3 feet in length, will now share a home with the great hammerhead, silky sharks, sea turtles, stingrays and other sea life.

The Queensland groupers, also known as giant groupers, are a colossal acquisition as these massive fish can grow up to 8.5 feet long and weigh up to 800 pounds each. That’s  almost as heavy as a Grand Piano or an adult male polar bear!

Giant groupers are the world’s largest bony fish found in coral reefs. This species can be found in shallow waters in and around coral reefs of the Indo-Pacific region in the wild.  The juvenile Queensland grouper is black with large white splotches and yellow-orange fins. As it matures, its color changes to a mottled gray-green with black-spotted fins.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Each time we introduce a new aquatic animal species to our guests, it’s an exciting moment for our team.  But we believe these enormous additions will be a BIG hit with families, especially kids, as they’ll be able to see them swim in Ocean Realm and continue to grow bigger and bigger each time they visit.  Right now, all five of the groupers are already larger than most kids who visit and even some adults!


The giant groupers were formerly housed in a Hawaiian sustainable fishery facility which was researching a species breeding program for sustainable seafood practices.  When the fishery discontinued the program, they needed to relocate the giant groupers to a new home, which is where Adventure Aquarium came in.

When we were notified about these groupers last winter, we were eager to bring them to our Ocean Realm exhibit. This kind of opportunity is extremely rare so we were happy to be involved in the adoption of these fish.


The transport of the groupers was a herculean effort in itself, with winter weather delays wreaking havoc on plans to send them across the country from Hawaii late last March.  The fish were eventually shipped in 7-foot round containers via air cargo from Hawaii, with a huge team of people and equipment needed to move them from plane to plane between two islands.  Their water was then changed to prepare for their journey across the country where they eventually arrived in Newark Liberty International Airport.  Adventure Aquarium biologists then drove them back to the aquarium and the fish were moved to a temporary behind-the-scenes home.  The fish were held in quarantine for approximately six months as they acclimated to being cared for by staff biologists, including target feed training, and were monitored by veterinary staff.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

When a moving date was determined, 17 members of our Fish & Invertebrate team and two veterinarians worked diligently for four hours to safely and successfully transfer all five of the groupers from the quarantine area and into the Ocean Realm acclimation area before ultimately being released onto exhibit.  The new residents were then monitored closely to ensure they were well-adjusted in their new home.


Giant groupers are ambush predators which hide in caves or shipwrecks, lying in wait for unsuspecting prey.  A grouper’s eyes function very well in dim light, giving it an advantage over its prey, which can include spiny lobster, small sharks and juvenile sea turtles. It can even rotate its eyes to see approaching prey without moving its head.  At Adventure Aquarium, the groupers will eat a variety of items including squid, mackerel, bonito and bluefish.

When it comes time to breed, the fish release eggs and sperm directly into the water, a process called broadcast spawning. These groupers reach sexual maturity at about 20 years old.  The species is found throughout the Indo-Pacific, with the widest distribution of any grouper, but its numbers are low and in decline in most areas due to overfishing making it vulnerable to extinction.  Even in unexploited areas, their numbers remain low, and they are often caught before reaching sexual maturity. The grouper’s gall bladder is thought to have medicinal properties, and the meat of younger individuals is popular on menus around the globe. Other threats include overharvesting for food and the live fish trade.

Our hope is that these groupers can serve as ambassador animals for their wild counterparts.  They can help send the message home to the families who visit Adventure Aquarium that sustainable seafood practices and conservation of our oceans are important if we want to keep species like giant groupers around for generations to come.


You can see these new animal additions in the Ocean Realm exhibit located in Zone A.  Later this September, Adventure Aquarium will welcome a sixth Queensland grouper, a juvenile, from Newport Aquarium, our sister aquarium in Newport, Kentucky.

Stay tuned for updates!

SURPRISE! We welcomed our 34th African Penguin Chick into our Aquarium Family and IT’S A…



Another boy hatchling is joining our African penguin colony and we couldn’t be more thrilled to share this new with you.

Meet Bahari, pronounced BAA-HHaa-Riy, which means ocean or sea in Swahili, one of the languages spoken in South Africa where African penguins originate.  He hatched on June 4, 2018 to second time parents, Kali (#13) and Tyson (#5).

Little Bahari is the first male chick to Kali and Tyson and the 34th chick to hatch to Adventure Aquarium’s breeding program, following recommendations by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) for the endangered African Penguins. We have been a part of the AZA’s SSP since 1998, a program that encourages zoos and aquariums to work together to help ensure the survival of the species through a scientifically-controlled breeding program.


Bahari was a pleasant surprised when he arrived late this spring, making this breeding season not only extended but extremely fortunate this year as we welcomed so many new chicks into our colony.

Although he is currently too young to learn to swim just yet, Bahari is already the size of an adult penguin at only 2 months old.  He is currently working on growing in his waterproof feathers and learning to eat at the bucket with the juveniles, among other necessary skills. Bahari is quite vocal and relaxed and biologists are quite eager to see his temperament develop as he matures to a juvenile.


The team is looking forward to introducing him to our guests in the coming weeks, which may coincide with our upcoming African Penguin Awareness conservation festival over the Labor Day holiday weekend.  As he progresses, we will make sure guests are aware of his official debut date!

Bahari will remain behind the scenes as he continues to progress, grow larger in size as well as develop his waterproof plumage before eventually being introduced to the colony in the Penguin Island exhibit.  Once he officially goes onto the exhibit, guests can find him wearing band #42.


It’s a Boy! AND a Girl! Our Newest African Penguin Chicks’ Winning Names & Genders Announced


Today marked a big day for two juvenile penguins as both their names and genders were officially revealed, Aquarium officials announced today.  The two chicks, which hatched on April 16 and April 20, respectively, were announced May 18, 2018 on Endangered Species Day, the national observation of conservation efforts to protect endangered species and their habitats.  African penguins are endangered, with only 21,000 breeding pairs remaining in the wild.

Following the announcement, a public vote was held to name the youngest members of the aquarium’s largest-ever colony of African penguins. Because the penguins’ genders were unknown at the time of hatching, with DNA test results need to determine their sexes, the name options proposed were gender neutral.


The vote was held this past June and July and we asked our guests to vote for their favorite name options using spare change. The four name options, nominated by Adventure Aquarium team members were Dobby, Meatball, Nova and Pistachio.  We were really excited to see which came out as the favorite names for our new additions.

And the winners are…Meatball and Pistachio!

Thanks to stellar participation of guest voting for the contest, nearly $800 was collected with 100% of the funds raised going to support conservation efforts for endangered African penguins in the wild.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In addition to the naming, the chicks’ genders were determined by blood test resulting in a male and female sibling pair.  The female will be named Pistachio, wearing band number 40; and the male will assume the name Meatball, wearing band number 41.

Both Meatball and Pistachio have been introduced to the colony in the Penguin Island exhibit with guests able to see them when visiting Adventure Aquarium daily. Our entire team is excited for our guests to watch them swim in the underwater viewing area and integrate into the group!


The Aquarium is part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program that encourages zoos and aquariums to work together to help ensure the survival of the species through a scientifically-controlled breeding program.  Since it began working with the program in 1998, the Aquarium has successfully bred and raised 33 African penguin chicks.


The Marketplace: NOW OPEN!

Now when you visit Adventure Aquarium, you might want to come with an appetite.

The Marketplace, our all-new eco-friendly restaurant is now serving fresh, made-to-order menu options to guests!


NEW for 2018, we invite you to dine with us at The Marketplace, where innovative and unique menu options are accompanied by an open concept kitchen with a sleek, modern design accompanied by warm, rustic touches.

marketplaceopening20Stop by the Grill Station if you’re craving a flame-broiled Headliner Burger, a 1/4 pound tri-blend burger topped with American cheese, fresh lettuce, sliced vine-ripened tomatoes and signature sauce on a brioche roll.  Those in the mood for a Crispy Chicken Sandwich can fulfill your craving as we top it with Sriracha mayo, pickles and slaw on a brioche roll.

Want to eat like a shark?  Try the Baja Grilled Fish Tacos. Yes, FISH tacos!  Throughout the aquarium, we serve restaurant quality seafood to our fish-eating animals.  Now we’re serving the same restaurant quality seafood to our guests!  But don’t worry, we’ll cook yours to order.  And no matter what you try at the grill, be sure to get the waffle fries – they’re crunchy and seasoned to perfection.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Those looking for a healthier, vegetarian option should try the Beyond Burger.  This plant-based patty is insanely good and a must-try.  Made with beets, it’s juicy and actually “bleeds” like a regular burger.  Topped with crisp butter lettuce, beefsteak tomatoes, red onion and vegan mayonnaise it won’t disappoint your burger cravings!


The Pizza and Hot Sandwiches Station is home to the incredible, hand-crafted Italian Roast Pork Melt made with juicy roast pork, provolone, spicy spinach, banana peppers and garlic aioli on toasted Italian bread.  The Margherita Pizza boasts a crispy, thin crust and cheesy mozzarella goodness topped with fresh plum tomatoes, shredded basil and a sprinkle of Italian seasoning.  Is your mouth watering yet??

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Still looking for dining options?  No problem!  Head over to the Deli and Salad Station for fresh, made to order wraps, salads and sammies.

marketplaceopening6The Steak ‘n’ Crunch Salad is not your typical salad with crisp lettuce mix accompanied by roasted red potatoes, blue cheese and roasted garlic ranch, then topped with carne asada and onion crisps. YUMMMM.


Other classics like Crispy Buffalo Chicken Wraps and Chicken Caesar Salads are always a good choice as well.

We’ll be gearing up for fall and new seasonal menu options – so stay tuned!





Check Off Your #SHARKSUMMER Bucket List at Adventure Aquarium this July and August!


Summer has officially arrived and that can only mean one thing: SHARKS are on our minds whether we’re hitting the beach for vacation or seeing a shark sighting on the news.  Even though these apex predators reside in our oceans year-round, during the summer we grow even more curious about them.  So, why not #ExploreBeforeTheShore at Adventure Aquarium and get to know the sharks that are swimming right in your own Atlantic Ocean backyard?

This July and August, #SharkSummer will take over Adventure Aquarium and you’ll have the opportunity to get up close and personal with the largest collection of sharks on the East Coast, with some found right off the coast of New Jersey and in the Delaware Bays.

Can you pick out the Jersey native shark species in Shark Realm?  Did you know many species of sharks migrate to the Delaware Bay for their pupping (aka baby sharks!) grounds? When you explore Adventure Aquarium you’ll learn just how important these animals are to the health of our ocean and all the ways we as humans can help protect them. We bet you’ll be a #SharkSummer expert before the end of your visit!

So, what can you check off your #SharkSummer bucket list?

#1.  Dare to cross Shark Bridge presented by Horizon, the longest V-shaped rope suspension bridge in the world, where you will walk inches above the 21-foot deep Shark Realm exhibit.

Shark_Bridge_HR_-¬2015_Steve_Ziegelmeyer-0229 (2)



#2.  Walk through Shark Tunnel, a 180 degree view of Shark Realm, our second largest exhibit at Adventure Aquarium and home sand tiger, sandbar and nurse sharks – species all found in the Jersey Shore coastal waters.

#3.  Be daring and Touch A Shark, be thrilled to actually TOUCH and FEEL some of the most exotic sharks in the world in the Touch A Shark exhibit.

#4.  Visit Ocean Realm and meet hammerhead_finalAnchor, our great hammerhead, who is also the only great hammerhead on exhibit in the United States.


#5.  Learn more about sharks during our Shark Talk, where you get a chance to meet a shark expert and learn about the residents of Shark Realm, as well as ask all the shark-related questions you’ve been dying to know!


#6.  Interact with a variety of stingray species aka close relatives of sharks.  Touch and feed them, in Stingray Beach Club. Their skin feels super smooth and their the friendliest “shark cousins” you’ll ever meet!

#7. Come face-to-face with some of the most majestic creatures roaming the seas as you watch “The World of Sharks” 3D Movie in the PSEG 3D Theater.  Included with admission, this movie takes a unique look at a variety of shark species from the Red Sea to the Pacific Ocean. Guests will marvel at the sight of a whale shark, the largest fish in the ocean, and be truly mesmerized by a friendly underwater encounter between a sea lion and a great white shark.


#8. Show off your inner shark and have your face painted at Stacey’s Face Painting in the Rotunda. Our face painting staff will even spike up your hair to make a fin Mohawk!


#9. Take the next step in your #SharkSummer journey, and dive in with a Shark & Ray In-Water Encounter! Snorkel alongside massive sand tiger and sandbar sharks in Shark Realm – with no glass in between. Then visit with stiSwedishFishSundaengrays, sharks close cousins, and feed them. You’ll need to reserve your spot in advance of your visit by calling our sales office at 844-474-FISH (3474).

#10. Take a bite out of a Dippin’ Dots Swedish Fish Sundae – After checking off all those bucket list items, you deserve a yummy frozen treat!  “Shark Bite” blue-raspberry flavored Dippin’ Dots ice cream and toppings, including a Swedish Fish garnish, make this sundae a tasty ending to a perfect #SharkSummer day.


With so many ways to #ExploreBeforeTheShore, you’ll be a verified #SharkSummer expert when you hit the beaches for vacation!  Hope to sea you soon!

Marketing Pictures 035

Treat Dad to an Adventure this Father’s Day


Are you still looking for a special way to celebrate D-A-D this Father’s Day? How about a BBQ hosted by penguins?

New in 2018, Dads visiting Adventure Aquarium can experience a truly unique Father’s Day with an outdoor BBQ in our all-new Penguin Park as well as have complete access to 8,500 aquatic species as they explore the underwater world with their families.

We were really trying to think of a unique way to honor the important men in the lives of our guests for Father’s Day.  We also wanted to bring the fun outside to our new Penguin Park exhibit so the idea to host a BBQ for families was born!  Really, how cool is it to dine and dance right near our African penguins?


The event will take place on Sunday, June 17, 2018 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM in Penguin Park.  Tickets, which are on sale now, are $44.99 for adults (age 13+) and $34.99 for children (Ages 2-12), and include full aquarium admission, 3D movie and Shark Bridge.  Plus, dine on a buffet the entire family can enjoy with tasty all you can eat barbecue, like delicious hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, salads and more.  As always, kids under the age of 2 receive free admission with an accompanying adult.


A DJ dance party to entertain kids of all ages is planned as guests will dance and dine alongside the aquarium’s colony of African penguins.  Love watching those adorable penguins waddle, swim and play? Then visit Penguin Island during the Father’s Day event, home to Adventure Aquarium’s largest colony of African penguins in its history, including the newest additions –”Philly Special” juvenile males Carson and Nick along with females Taco and Shelley. Staff can even point out their proud papa penguins on exhibit too!


Younger guests can spend time learning through play in Explorers Cove, the nautical-themed playground in Penguin Park, equipped with a soft play pirate ship, hammerhead shark, octopus, sea stars and more while dads and moms relaxes nearby.

We don’t want any Dad to spend his special day behind the grill.  So let us do the work for you! And the best part? No cleanup!

Guests interested in attending the Father’s Day BBQ event can visit for more information or to purchase tickets.


Help Us Welcome Our Newest African Penguin Chicks!


Taken during their morning weigh-in behind the scenes of Penguin Island on Thursday, May 17, these young penguins have already tripled their size since hatching just 5 weeks ago. (Photo Credit: Adventure Aquarium/Christy Schultz)

Today marks Endangered Species Day.  Celebrated on May 18th annually, it is the national observation of conversation efforts to protect endangered species and their habitats.  This day is also very special since we’re announcing that 2 African penguin chicks have hatched at Penguin Island this spring!

African penguins are endangered, with less than 22,000 breeding pairs left in their native South Africa.  Adventure Aquarium, along with other Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) institutions, participates in the Species Survival Plan (SSP) and we are all working to help fight the extinction of this incredible species so generations to come will be able to see, enjoy and learn from these animals.

Here are some snapshots of them during their first 4 weeks!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We work with AZA’s African penguin SSP, a program that encourages zoos and aquariums to work together to help ensure the survival of the species through a scientifically-controlled breeding program.  Since we began working with the program in 1998, 33 African penguin chicks have been successfully bred and raised here!

With this breeding program, we are able to bolster the species population while showing kids and families these animals and educating them on how they can help them too.  Making these connections during a visit to Adventure Aquarium and that developing into a lifelong compassion for these animals, the environment and our world’s oceans is what we hope for during every guest interaction.

The proud penguin parents, Jack and Diane, welcomed two sets, also known as clutches, of chicks during the 2017-2018 breeding season. Their first clutch produced brothers Carson and Nick, which hatched on December 10 and 13, respectively, and were named after the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterbacks.  The second clutch announced on Endangered Species Day hatched in mid-April, with the arrival of chick one on April 16 at just 2.15 ounces (61 grams) and the second chick on April 20 at only 1.69 ounces (48 grams).

Jack and Diane have done an excellent job parenting these chicks for the past five weeks.  They are one of our most successful breeding pairs and continue to demonstrate that with the arrival of these new chicks.


These two babies are growing fast! This photo was taken on Thursday, May 10 – just 3 weeks after hatching! (Photo Credit: Adventure Aquarium/Christy Schultz)

The young penguins are doing well and growing fast.  When the chicks first hatched just weeks ago they weighed around two ounces each, the approximate weight and size of a golf ball, but have each grown to weigh roughly the same weight as two and a half footballs and nearly tripled in size.  The chicks eat small whole fish just like the adult birds including silversides, smelt, anchovies, trout and capelin. Young penguins usually eat more than some of the adults at about 15-20 fish per day.

Penguins grow extremely fast and in just a few months, these baby penguins will be the size of fully grown African penguins.  At that point, they will start attending “penguin school” to help them transition into being members of our adult colony of birds.

In order for the penguin chicks to learn how to acclimate with the colony at the Aquarium, staff must take over caring for them when they are able to eat small but whole fish and are more physically developed and mobile.  The birds need to learn how to eat from human hands, associate fish with the feed bucket and learn to be social with the keepers, which are all important steps to becoming part of the group.

The pair of chicks will remain behind the scenes to allow them time to grow larger in size as well as develop their waterproof plumage before eventually being introduced to the colony in the Penguin Island exhibit later this summer.  As the chicks mature, there will be some opportunity for Adventure Aquarium visitors to see them in the coming months.  As the young birds progress and grow, staff may bring one of the chicks out from the Penguin House area following African penguin feeds, dependent on weather.

The chicks’ genders are currently unknown with blood tests to be conducted when the penguins are older.  A naming contest will be held later this summer in which guests will have the opportunity to vote on names for these new additions.  Details will be shared in the coming weeks so be sure to check back right here for info!


Chick #1 just a week after hatching! (Photo Credit: Adventure Aquarium/Christy Schultz)