Come Celebrate the Magic of Christmas!

How is Christmas celebrated in the underwater world?

Every holiday season, Scuba Santa brings the gift of Christmas joy to all the animals and guests of Adventure Aquarium by decorating its exhibits with colorful shells, thousands of twinkling lights, enchanting bubbles and, of course, a bit of magic – and this year, he’s decorated EIGHT more!

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See Santa swim among sharks, sting rays, and schools of fish in the Ocean Realm, home of the World’s Tallest Underwater Christmas Tree; partake in our indoor snow shower dance parties; sit with one of Santa’s el-fish helpers as they read a Christmas story; or share your Christmas wishes with him by dropping letters in his special mailbox! You can even enjoy cold milk and warm cookies with Santa during our ‘dry-side’ events (free for members, special ticket required for non-members) on December 8, 9 and 15th!

If you haven’t yet joined us deep beneath the ocean’s surface for a glimpse into the magic of Christmas Underwater, be sure to plan your visit before December 30! Scroll down for a full list activities going on at Adventure Aquarium this month:

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 I BELIEVE IN SCUBA SANTA

Join one of Scuba Santa’s El-fish helpers as we finish getting ready for Christmas Underwater.

Now – December 23
Monday – Friday: 11:00 AM and 2:15 PM
Saturday – Sunday: 11:00 AM, 12:15 PM and 2:15 PM

December 24 – December 25
Daily: 12:15 PM

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STORYTIME

Sit with one of Scuba Santa’s El-fish helpers as they read the story of the world’s tallest underwater Christmas tree.

Now – December 23
Monday – Friday: 10:30 AM and 1:00 PM
Saturday – Sunday: 10:30 AM, 1:30 PM and 3:30 PM

December 24 – December 25
Daily: 1:30 PM

December 26 – December 30
Daily: 10:30 AM, 1:30 PM and 3:30 PM

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SCUBA SANTA

Watch Scuba Santa as he swims alongside magnificent sharks, incredible sea turtles and graceful stingrays in the Aquarium’s 760,000-gallon Ocean Realm exhibit!

Now – December 23
Daily: 10:00 AM and 12:30 PM

December 24 – December 25
Daily: 2:15 PM

December 26 – December 30
Daily: 10:30 AM, 11:30 AM, 12:30 PM and 1:30 PM

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LET IT SNOW

Enjoy magical indoor snow flurries.

Now – December 23
Monday – Friday, every hour, on the hour between 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM
Saturday – Sunday, every hour, on the hour between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM

December 24 – December 25
Daily: 12:00 PM, 1:00 PM and 2:00 PM

December 26 – December 30
Every hour, on the hour between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM

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MILK & COOKIE “DRY-SIDE” EVENTS

Pose for photos with Santa and enjoy ice cold milk and warm cookies while they exploring the magic that is Christmas Underwater! This event is the ONLY time guests will have the opportunity to meet Santa on land!

December 8, 9 and 15
8:00 AM – 9:30 AM

The event is free for members (RSVP required); non-members can purchase tickets ahead of time at www.adventureaquarium.com or at the door (Adult $33.99, Child: $26.99).

We can’t wait to see you at the aquarium!

Scuba Santa is Back at Adventure Aquarium!

Christmas is just around the corner, which means the team here at Adventure Aquarium is gearing up for our annual Christmas Underwater extravaganza, kicking off in just 3 days! Scuba Santa and his helpers have been hard at work to bring you and your family the most immersive, magical Christmas experience.

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From November 23 until December 30, the aquarium will transform into an underwater winter wonderland featuring larger-than-life decorations, glowing trees and hundreds of twinkling lights throughout 8 of your favorite exhibits. There’s even magical indoor snow expected to fall every hour, on the hour, for you to dance and play in!

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Scuba Santa will be making the most underwater appearances in aquarium history this year, so be sure to come visit him in Ocean Realm this season as he swims alongside sharks, stingrays, sea turtles and more spreading holiday cheer – and don’t forget to stop to take an underwater selfie with him!

Don’t forget! See the World’s Tallest Underwater Christmas Tree – which stands 18 feet tall! The tree is decorated with over 100 lights, as well as 400 artificial and custom-sculpted corals, thanks to the help of Scuba Santa’s trusty underwater elves.

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Guests will also have the opportunity to meet Scuba Santa during his weekend “dry side” meet-and-greets, where he’ll hand up his scuba gear and take photos with guests. To spend more time with Scuba Santa, members and VIP ticket holders can join us for Milk and Cookies with Santa on Friday, November 30 from 5:00-8:30 p.m. and December 8, 9 and 15 from 8:00-9:30 a.m!

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You can also mail a letter to Scuba Santa during your visit by dropping your personalized wishes into a special mailbox in the Ocean Realm. Scuba Santa will even reply with a message just for you – just be sure to include an email address in your letter and place it in the mailbox by Saturday, December 22!

All activities, with the exception of Milk and Cookies with Santa, are included with a general admission ticket.

We can’t wait to share the magic of Christmas Underwater with you – and hope to see you soon!

THE MERMAIDS HAVE ARRIVED

Mermiad Amira 2.JPGThe mermaids are finally here!

Now until November 11th, you can experience the magical world of mermaids at Adventure Aquarium! Watch real-life mermaids as they swim among the largest collection of sharks on the East Coast, as well as stingrays and hundreds of fish.

Until November 11, you’ll find mermaids Amira, Kai, Nixie, Lelu and more mermaid friends swimming in our 550,000 Shark Realm, which houses nearly 30 sharks (including blacktip sharks, sandbar sharks, sand tiger sharks and nurse sharks!) as well as 200 other animals.

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When the mermaids aren’t busy swimming with their underwater friends, you can find them on dry land during daily meet and greets at the Blue Mile. Come say hi and take a picture with the mermaid of your choice! The mermaids will also share tips for how you can help protect their home – the ocean – and improve the lives of all the creatures that live there.

That’s not all – this year, we invite you to become a mermaid with our Mermaids VIP Encounter! Join us in the Skyline Room and enjoy a deluxe face painting, including one-of-a-kind gems and glitter with your choice of either an LED hair tinsel or crown! You can also try on a magical mermaid tail and complete your look with an enchanting mermaid wand, and show off your creativity by creating a special mermaid-themed craft during your visit. Not only that – we’ll have cake and mermaid punch or lemonade for all of our guests, which comes in a take-home souvenir cup.

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For a full list of events, click here. Our mermaids can’t wait to see you at the aquarium!

MERMAIDS ARE BACK!

Do you believe in mermaids?

With most of our planet covered by water, it’s no wonder that the oceans have been believed to hide mysterious creatures like mermaids. Centuries ago, sailors and residents of coastal towns around the world first told stories of encountering mermaids – in fact, there are a few dozen significant historical claims of mermaid sightings. These legendary sea creatures have long fascinated humans – mermaids have even appeared in cave paintings from the late Stone Age period, some 30,000 years ago!

While modern mermaid reports are very rare, they do occur. For example, as recently as 2009, news reports claimed that a mermaid had been sighted off the coast of Israel, in the town of Kiryat Yam.

Luckily, next week, you won’t have to go far to look for mermaids.

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From Saturday, November 3 through Sunday, November 11, Adventure Aquarium guests will have the unique opportunity to be mesmerized by mermaids from the windows of Currents Ballroom, as they dive in our 550,000-gallon Shark Realm exhibit (the largest shark exhibit on the East Coast!) and glide past sharks, stingrays and glittering schools of menhaden.

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Visitors will even have the opportunity to meet the mermaids (outside of the water) and pose for photos. Not only that – our mermaids are just as committed as we are to ocean conservation and improving the health of the world’s oceans for the animals that live there, and they can’t wait to share ways that our guests can help protect the oceans, long after their visit.

New this year, you can do more than just meet our mermaids – you can become one! Experience the magical world of Mermaids like never before with our immersive and exclusive Mermaids VIP Encounter, which includes a deluxe face painting, including one-of-a-kind gems and glitter with your choice of an LED hair tinsel or crown. You can also try on a magical mermaid tail and complete your look with an enchanting mermaid wand! For a full list of events, click here.

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While stories of them may be ancient, mermaids can still be seen today in many forms outside of the aquarium, whether it be in paintings, films or books — and maybe even in the ocean waves, if we look close enough!

 

Welcome New Friends: New Baby Animals from Land, Air and Sea!

We are excited to share that we’ve welcomed new baby animals which can be found on land, in the air or swimming in the sea! A baby African crested porcupine, baby laughing kookaburra and schools of miniature baby sea horses and moon jellies have all joined our family of nearly 15,000 animals.

Just four weeks ago, our team eagerly welcomed the arrival of a baby male African crested porcupine, also known as a porcupette, from the Cohanzick Zoo in Bridgeton, NJ.  Born on September 11, 2018, the porcupette weighed just 420 grams, or about as heavy as a soccer ball.

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Although the African crested porcupine has been part of the Adventure Aquarium collection since 2004, with an adult porcupine currently on exhibit in Hippo Haven, this is the first time the aquarium team has received a porcupette just days old and in need of 24-hour care.

Our biologists immediately took over hand-rearing this little guy, which will grow up to be over 40 pounds in a little over a year.  He is bottle fed throughout the day, multiple times when he first arrived here, and will continue doing so in the coming weeks with his schedule adjusting as he grows.

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Biologists provided the baby porcupine similar care to that of a human infant, taking him home at the end of each day to provide him with round-the-clock attention.  This not only provided excellent care for the animal, but also gave the keepers time to bond with the tiny porcupine, which will help in future training.

Training began shortly after he began eating solid vegetables, just about a week after he arrived here. Porcupines grow quickly so it is important to start working with them while they are young.  We’re looking forward to continuing to work with him closely as he grows in size but also grows in his adult quills and expresses more of his personality.

You, as our guests, are encouraged to help name the new porcupette through a voting contest to be held at the aquarium.  Using spare change, you can choose your favorite name option, choosing from: Edgar, George and Theodore.  African crested porcupines can be found in the same areas as Nile hippos in the wild, which led to the decision for all donations made in the voting contest to benefit hippo conservation in Africa.

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In late July 2018, a male laughing kookaburra, named Brisbane by the Birds and Mammals team of biologists, arrived from the Santa Barbara Zoo in California.  After he hatched on April 23, 2018, Santa Barbara Zoo officials waited for his feathers to grow in and made sure he was eating well before he made the cross country trip to Adventure Aquarium.

After a 30-day quarantine period here, Brisbane was moved to his new home, right next to our other laughing kookaburra, Sydney, in our behind-the-scenes Penthouse area. He will continue to become accustomed to his new surroundings and get used to living at Adventure Aquarium.

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Inside his new behind-the-scenes home in the Penthouse, a bright and sunny area with a huge skylight overhead, is also the home of the aquarium’s other parrots and birds.  The team is working closely with Brisbane on training, including hand-feeding, weighing on a scale and getting used to his new transport kennel for when he will move to and from his exhibit.  Brisbane loves to eat mice, pinkies and small chunks of meat.  He even loves to take his prey and smack it on his perching just to make sure it isn’t alive.  He is also a big fan of enrichment, especially a stuffed animal.

Brisbane continues to do well as he acclimates to his new surroundings and exercises his, often loud, vocalizations.  The team’s goal is to eventually have Brisbane take turns with Sydney going on exhibit daily in the Australian Aviary next to the Little Blue Penguin exhibit.

He is very vocal and kookaburras are known for their laughing, or what we sometimes refer to as kooking. So you might hear him before you actually see him out on exhibit in the near future!  Once he is accustomed to being in the aviary, he will rotate days on exhibit with Sydney.  He will not share the exhibit with Sydney, rather they will rotate so each has consistent and equal opportunities to see guests as well as relax behind-the-scenes.

Biologists on the aquarium’s Fish and Invertebrates team also welcomed some new underwater additions this fall through a process known as culturing.

The process of culturing, or controlled breeding, is performed in many aquariums to ensure we have a variety of species available for our exhibits.

Seahorses, with the males commonly recognized for carrying their offspring as eggs inside a pouch until they hatch, are a guest favorite.  Behind-the-scenes, biologists work to breed these animals through a process called culturing.  Last Friday, 20 reidi seahorses, also known as the longsnout seahorse, hatched along with five erectus fry seahorses on September 1 of this year.  The plan for these tiny animals is to eventually inhabit the Horseplay exhibit located in Adventure Aquarium’s Caribbean Currents gallery.

As part of the ongoing culturing program, three species of jellies, including moon, Pacific sea nettles and spotted jellies, or mastigias, are constantly growing in a behind-the-scenes area.  A variety of jellyfish species can be seen by guests daily in the Jules Verne gallery of Zone D.

In the case of the jellies, we also culture them as food for other animals, like sea turtles.

Stay tuned for updates on how these new baby animals are growing up at Adventure Aquarium and when you’ll have a chance to meet these new friends!

OK, time for a nap…see you next time!

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GIANTS Arrive to Ocean Realm

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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.

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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!

WHERE DID THEY COME FROM?

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.

HOW DID THEY GET HERE?

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.

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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.

TELL ME MORE ABOUT GIANT GROUPERS!

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.

THERE’S MORE??

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…

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…BOY!

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.

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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.

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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.

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