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

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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.

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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.

 

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

 

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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!

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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??

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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.

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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!