Join us on an OCEARCH Expedition for Great White Sharks

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Humans have a fascination with sharks. They are often feared as man-eating creatures out hunting humans off the coastal shores (thanks to Steven Spielberg, his animatronic shark and two notes…da-na, da-na, da-na…).

But, in reality, sharks are some of the coolest creatures on the planet.  With a wide variety of species, with some species yet to be discovered in the vast ocean, in all shapes and sizes, we have a great deal to learn from these majestic, and misunderstood, animals.  One of the best known species of shark is the great white.  Again, thanks Mr. Spielberg for making them a part of popculture!   There are researchers interested in learning more about the species, which leads us to a great partnership with OCEARCH and Adventure Aquarium.

OCEARCH is a recognized world leader in collecting research and data to track and conduct biological studies of marine species such as great white and tiger sharks. OCEARCH goes on expeditions and tags sharks in the wild.  They are then able to track their movement through the ocean. They also work to help educate and conduct outreach for conservation.

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If you’re into sharks, you’ll definitely want to know all about OCEARCH and the work they’re doing – especially being able to track the tagged sharks’ travels up and down the coast of the New Jersey and all over the world (#ping).

Adventure Aquarium’s staff veterinarian, Dr. Mike Hyatt, had the awesome opportunity to join OCEARCH on a recent expedition.  The partnership between Adventure Aquarium and OCEARCH began when a colleague of Dr. Hyatt, the veterinarian for the North Carolina Aquariums, invited him to help out in a sand tiger shark expedition off of Wilmington, NC.

OCEARCH then invited him back for future expeditions as part of their science team – how cool!  Over the past year, Dr. Hyatt has participated in two more expeditions: Nantucket last September, and most recently, the Low Country expedition off of Hilton Head, SC.  Both of these expeditions were in search of great white sharks!

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On the most recent expedition in Hilton Head, Dr. Hyatt was able to help examine wild great whites (crazy awesome) but working with OCEARCH means a lot to him.

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“Tracking great white sharks to determine their natural history and biology with migration, reproduction and birthing is what made OCEARCH a global leader in providing scientific data and educational outreach,” said Hyatt.  “Collaborating with OCEARCH provides opportunities for shark conservation research not only for Adventure Aquarium, but for numerous other aquarium and academic researchers all at the same time.”

Being able to join these expeditions in the field is exciting but also important to the cause, as Dr. Hyatt’s role helps provide care to the animals as they are being tagged.  “My role on the expeditions is to provide veterinary oversight, assist in health assessments of the sharks via collecting blood, surgical placement of intracoelomic acoustic tags, and collect semen in mature males,” said Hyatt.  “My research interests on the expeditions include capture and handling stress physiology and reproductive physiology.”

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We’re excited to see how this partnership continues and look forward to Dr. Hyatt’s future expeditions with OCEARCH as well as what the data collected will reveal.

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OCEARCH and AAQ will continue to work together during our first-ever Shark Awareness Weekend being held this Memorial Day holiday weekend (May 27-29).  Similar to our other awareness weekends, we’ll celebrate all weekend-long and raise money to help the wild counterparts of our animal ambassadors.  Special programming, cool games and more awaits you this upcoming Shark Awareness Weekend so mark your calendar!

Until next time, have a good one Adventure Insider readers!

Little Blue Babes Hit the Beach


Adventure Aquarium’s newest little blue penguins have made their public debut!

The newest little blue penguins, two adult female little blues and the Aquarium’s first-ever little blue chick, are now permanent residents of the Little Blue Beach exhibit.

When you visit us, you can see 12-week-old Elanora (pictured below – isn’t she beautiful??).


Miss Elanora

In addition, Maremma and Kororaa, the adult female birds that arrived from New England Aquarium in December, have joined the colony.  The little blue bachelors, Indigo and Cobalt, also returned to the exhibit after spending time behind the scenes.

“Elanora, Maremma and Kororaa have acclimated nicely into the little blue colony,” said Michele Pagel, Curator of Birds and Mammals at Adventure Aquarium.  “We are excited for our guests to see the thriving colony together for the first time as well as wait for the potential pairings of the new females with our eligible bachelors.”


Elanora, named by a fan vote on, hatched inside a nesting box to first-time parents, Sheila and Goose, on the Little Blue Beach exhibit on December 3, 2016.  Maremma, nine-months-old, and Kororaa, eight-years-old, arrived from New England Aquarium on December 14, 2016.  All three female birds stayed behind the scenes until they were ready to join the colony.

Guests can identify the new additions by their special wing bands: Elanora (#9), Maremma (#10) and Kororaa (#11).  With these little blues moving on exhibit, the colony now consists of six males and five females.


Celebrate Hippo Awareness Weekend with us!


First, adorable hippo valentines because…well, hippo valentines. (You’re welcome.)


Thanks Genny girl! #smooches #besos #xoxo

Second, Hippo Awareness Weekend will return for a weekend of #HippoLove…and it’s also a 3-day weekend…so hooray for hippos! Back and bigger than ever, you’re invited this Saturday, February 18 through Monday, February 20.

No, the Nile hippos of Adventure Aquarium – Genny and Button – didn’t personally give you a 3-day weekend off from school/work but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t come visit them and celebrate all things hippo.  Right? Right.


The event has grown so much in popularity that we’ve had to expand it.  HIPPO SIZED!!!! Activities will take place in Zone D’s Hippo Haven as well as the Blue Mile, located in Zone B.

Meet the Girls

Genny, born on July 10 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida, is a 16-year-old Nile hippo and the larger of the two ladies, weighing in at over 4,000 pounds. Born March 22 at Parque Zoological de Leon in Mexico, 20-year-old Button is just over 3,000 pounds. Each hippo is unique and if you attend the event this weekend you’ll have the awesome opportunity to get to know the girls with help from biologists, including the ability to tell them apart by their physical differences as well as personality traits.   BOOM – make a hippo bestie this weekend, ladies and gents.

Hippo Kissin’

Interested in kissing a hippo? Well, who isn’t?  Those seeking a kiss from a hippo have a few options to choose from this year. Seriously!  New in 2017, you can purchase limited edition, custom designed hippo kiss t-shirts to showcase their smooches.  (Real talk: They’re incredibly cute and people will be super jealous of your hippo swag.)

Hop in Button and Genny’s “Hippo Kissing Booth” in the Blue Mile to have your photo taken by our H2O Photographer (you also have the option to snap your own pic).

AND special “kiss” paintings, featuring a nose print (with their hippo lips included!) from either Genny or Button in fun, vibrant colors, will also be available for purchase.


Painting with Hippos!

Genny and Button also created one of a kind artwork with an imprint of their skin.  A hippo’s skin has a unique texture with many “wrinkles” and grooves.  These prints are created by applying animal safe, non-toxic paint, just like the hippo kiss paintings. Canvas is then pressed over the area revealing a skin print and a magnet is adhered to the reverse side.  Super cool and it will totally up your fridge magnet game.

“The girls put a lot of love into their special kiss paintings and new hippo print magnets for this weekend,” said Michele Pagel, Curator of Birds and Mammals. “The magnets are really cool and will definitely be an interesting conversation piece for your fridge. Whether you buy a painting, magnet, t-shirt or play a game – this weekend offers all-around great ways to show hippo love and all for a great cause.”


Hippos Got Game

New hippo-themed games with a conservation message as well as crafts will also be available for kids of all ages to enjoy in the Blue Mile.  All donations made will help save hippos in the wild and benefit the Turgwe Hippo Trust, a non-profit organization in Zimbabwe, Africa.


ALL THINGS HIPPO – we weren’t kidding

Displays will be set up in Hippo Haven featuring their daily diet, a behind-the-scenes look at hippo painting in action and other fun hippo info for the whole family to enjoy. Biologists will also showcase special enrichment sessions including feeds featuring the hippos’ favorite treats, underwater target training, ice block interaction, hose spray play and more!


Here’s a breakdown of  all the Hippo Awareness Weekend programming for those who enjoy lists (ahem, like me):

*NEW* Hippo Kissing Booth! Jump in Button and Genny’s “Hippo Kissing Booth” and take a H2O photo.  Location: Blue Mile (Zone B)

*NEW* Custom-Designed Hippo Kiss T-Shirts! Limited edition shirts showcasing their smooches will be available for purchase (while supplies last). Location: Hippo Haven (Zone D)


 *NEW* Unique Hippo Print Magnets! Don’t put boring magnets on the fridge!  Custom-made magnets featuring cool painted imprints of Genny or Button’s skin will be available (while supplies last). A hippo’s skin has a unique texture with many “wrinkles” and grooves.  These prints are created by applying animal safe, non-toxic paint, just like the hippo kiss paintings. Canvas is then pressed over the area revealing a skin print and a magnet is adhered to the reverse side. Location: Hippo Haven (Zone D)

 *NEW* Hippo Games and Crafts! Play educational hippo-riffic games, including Hungry Hippos and Watering Hole. Spin the prize wheel for the chance to can win a unique hippo prize (while supplies last). And be sure to visit TD Bank’s hippo mini golf course and win fun, hippo-themed prizes (while supplies last).  Also, become artists just like Button and Genny by creating a hippo craft. Location: Blue Mile (Zone B)


Can’t get enough hippo kisses? Pucker up and pick-up the perfect painting. Purchase a special hippo kiss painting made by Button and Genny (while supplies last). Location: Hippo Haven (Zone D)

 Join AAQ biologists inside Hippo Haven for lively hippo feeds, underwater workout training and unique enrichment sessions. Location: Hippo Haven (Zone D)


 Stop by the Hippo Haven Curiosity Table. Learn all about the Aquarium’s two Nile hippos with various displays about the hippos and their diet. Location: Hippo Haven (Zone D)

 Button and Genny are up for adoption! Well, sort of…Guests can adopt a hippo during their visit.  Receive a special adoption certificate, a hippo plush and more! Proceeds benefit hippo care and the Turgwe Hippo Trust. Location: The Gift Shop (Zone D)

 To learn more about Hippo Awareness Weekend or to purchase tickets online, visit


What’s New at AAQ in 2017


Four African penguin chicks, a loggerhead sea turtle hatchling, a school of piranha and more came together to introduce Adventure Aquarium’s new animals, exhibits and programming for 2017.

“We invite every family and guest that visits Adventure Aquarium to explore life underwater,” said Vince Nicoletti, Vice President and Executive Director of Adventure Aquarium.  “The ocean is filled with magnificent stories. We challenge ourselves to tell these stories through unique and immersive experiences for each and every guest – whether it’s their very first visit or they’ve been a long-time Member of the Aquarium family.”

During the press conference held in Currents Ballroom at Adventure Aquarium, staff unveiled plans for new exhibits opening in the coming months as well as new animals and additions to programming, merchandise and other guest experiences.

So what do we have planned?  We thought you’d never ask.


NEW! Piranha Falls – Beginning this April, guests will journey deep into the Amazon for an exhibit Adventure Aquarium guests have never experienced.  See the most feared predator of the Amazon River – a school of red-bellied piranha.  Experience the powerful rainstorms of the Amazon rainforest as the weather suddenly changes and guests are caught in the middle of the storm.  A new Amazonian parrot display will feature some of our awesome birds as well!  Learn how to survive in the Amazon like the animals and Amazonian people have done for thousands of years.  In addition, guests can watch the Octonauts Amazon Adventure 3D film to continue their Amazonian experience.  The 3D movie is now included with admission.  For updates on this new spring exhibit, visit


NEW! PBS KIDS Jim Henson’s Splash and Bubbles Summer Experience – Fans of this fresh and fun animated series will enjoy a brand new guest experience surrounding the educational and entertaining PBS KIDS program.  Beginning in late June, guests will experience a Splash and Bubbles themed 3D movie and have the opportunity to meet the characters at daily Splash and Bubbles dance parties.  The Splash and Bubbles experience is free with admission.


NEW! #AAQFeaturedCreature – Throughout the year, Adventure Aquarium will focus on a new #AAQFeaturedCreature of the month, which began with little blue penguins in January and Nile hippos coming in February, primarily on social media.  Guests are encouraged to follow the Aquarium’s social media accounts for a deeper dive into each animal species.


NEW! Instameets – In conjunction with the #AAQFeaturedCreature, a monthly Instameet will be held.  Local social media rock stars will have the unique opportunity to come prior to the Aquarium opening or after hours to photograph these awesome animals. This series of exclusive events will allow them the opportunity to engage with the Aquarium’s exhibits and animals in a whole new way.


NEW! Little Blue Colony Additions – Recent arrivals from New England Aquarium, nine-month-old Maremma and eight-year-old Kororaa are currently behind the scenes with two little blue males, Indigo and Cobalt, in hopes they will pair off.  Guests will have the opportunity to see Maremma and Kororaa on exhibit for the first time, along with the return of Indigo and Cobalt, in the coming weeks.  Details will be shared via the Aquarium’s social media accounts.


NEW! Fishy Resident Arrivals – Fans of fish are sure to be overjoyed when they see the new aquatic animals taking up residence in Shark Realm this coming summer.  A school of menhaden will go on exhibit as well as a sizeable goliath grouper.  In addition, shark ray pups will be arriving from Newport Aquarium in Kentucky, AAQ’s sister aquarium and go on exhibit at a later date.  Finally, a hippo blue tang (aka Dory) was added to the clownfish exhibit on the second floor of the Aquarium in Kids’ Zone (Zone C) making it much easier for guests to “Find Dory.”


NEW! Names for the Fab Four African Penguin Chicks – The four female African penguin chicks that hatched last December made their first media appearance and the names given to the chicks by Aquarium staff were also announced: Mazie, Susie from clutch one; and Amani and Shida from clutch two.  Mazie was a combination of Mom’s (Minnie) and Dad’s (Kamikaze) names.  Susie was named after one of Adventure Aquarium’s longtime volunteers.  Amani is Swahili for “peace” and Shida is Swahili for “trouble.”  Swahili is native language spoken in South Africa, where the African penguins originated.  The four 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.  Adventure Aquarium visitors will have the opportunity to see the chicks in the coming weeks.  Staff will bring one of the chicks out from the back of house area following African penguin feeds, dependent on weather.


NEW! First-Ever Little Blue Penguin Chick Naming The Aquarium’s first-ever little blue chick, which hatched on December 3, 2016, is currently behind the scenes but will go on exhibit in Little Blue Beach in the coming weeks.  An official announcement will be made notifying guests and media when she will make her public debut.  An online naming vote hosted on will conclude at 5:00 p.m. on January 31, with the little blue chick’s name announced shortly following the end of voting.  Visitors can choose from three name options: Robin, Elanora and Tuatahi.


NEW! Rehab and Release Loggerhead Sea Turtle Hatchling Currently attending sea turtle survival school, the loggerhead hatchling is growing larger each day and learning enrichment skills to help it hunt and survive when it is released into the ocean this coming fall.  Voting for the sea turtle hatchling’s name has been held all month-long in the Aquarium’s Main Lobby and will conclude on January 31 at 5:00 p.m.  Guests can vote for their favorite name from four options, Darwin, Groot, Griswold or Tina, using spare change.  All donations collected benefiting sea turtles in the wild. The loggerhead hatchling’s name will be officially announced following the conclusion of voting.


NEW! Behind the Scenes Penguin Encounters Due to popular demand, guests interested in going behind the scenes with African penguins can now book their experience on Fridays at 10:15 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Beginning in March, guests can participate in the behind the scenes Penguin Encounters at 10:15 a.m. in addition to their 2:30 p.m. timeslot on weekends. The special encounters will also be offered during spring break and from Christmas Day to New Year’s Day. Visit or call the Group Sales at 1-800-616-JAWS (5297) for more info.


NEW! Birthday Party Themes, Games and more – Every Birthday can be an Adventure!  On Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 AM, 12:30 PM and 2:30 PM, guests can hold their birthday party at Adventure Aquarium. Each package option includes: Aquarium admission for everyone in the party, a special behind the scenes tour, one hour of access to the Skyline Party Room, which also includes fun games like pin the tail on the mermaid or pirate! Parents can also choose a theme for their party such as mermaids, pirates, under the sea or sharks.  Specially-themed digital invitations and décor to match their theme is also included.  Visit or call the Group Sales at 1-800-616-JAWS (5297) for more info.


NEW! Membership PerksBeing part of the Adventure Aquarium family has its advantages.  Members will enjoy special events such as a private, Members-only preview of the Piranha Falls exhibit before it opens to the public.  Also, beginning on February 27th the Aquarium will open at 9:30 a.m. and Members will have the opportunity to take advantage of early access to the Aquarium.   Those special hours will continue every weekday through the end of August.  Member Bring-A-Friend Days return on March 30, which include a free guest on weekends as well as on weekdays.  Members will also be invited to exclusive behind the scenes tours of the Ocean Realm exhibit during special Bring-A-Friend days.


NEW! Shark Awareness Weekend Due to popular demand, a shark conservation fundraising weekend was added to a calendar packed with the guest-favorite awareness weekends held for sea turtles, hippos and African penguins.  The event scheduled for Memorial Day Weekend this year will focus on the world’s most misunderstood predator – the shark.  Guests will learn more about sharks as well as have opportunities to help save sharks in the wild through a variety of activities.


NEW! Adventure Aquarium Merchandise – Guests can take a memory home from The Gift Shop with a huge selection of aquarium apparel, mugs, jewelry and more. The trendy t-shirt collection for adults and kids has been expanded. New in the drinkware category this year are water bottles, fruit infusers and coffee tumblers in a rainbow of colors.  As a nod to mermaids, sea fairies have been added to the AAQ mermaid collection as well as new mermaid items for the home.


Mermaids Return Due to popular demand, the Mermaid Experience will return this coming November to Adventure Aquarium.  The limited time engagement will feature real-life mermaids both in-water and on dry land to the delight of Aquarium guests.


The Return of Christmas Celebration and Scuba Santa – The most wonderful time of the year will return to Adventure Aquarium when Scuba Santa swims back into town this December.  Guests will be treated to daily live programming and more all month-long.

And that’s not everything…of course we have a few surprises up our sleeve but we thought these fun updates would be nice to share with you now.

Guests and visitors are encouraged to follow the Aquarium’s social media accounts to stay up-to-date on animal birth announcements as well as events and happenings.

The Fab Four: African Penguin Chicks Hatch to Thriving Colony


Our Adventure aquarium baby boom has become a month-long affair with our latest additions!

We officially announced the hatching of four African penguins last week, bolstering an already booming colony at Penguin Island.  The new additions hatched in two clutches just weeks apart from each other in December, 2016.



Clutch #1!


Clutch #2!

The first clutch hatched on December 10 and 14, respectively, to African penguin parents Minnie and Kamikaze.  The second clutch arrived later in the month to parents Jack and Diane on December 23 and 26, respectively.  The chicks’ genders were initially determined during early tests using DNA collected from inside their egg shells which all resulted in female.  Blood tests will be conducted when the penguins are older to confirm these results. #GIRLPOWER continues!

The Aquarium participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s (AZA’s) African penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program that encourages zoos and aquariums to work in concert to help ensure the survival of African penguins through a scientifically-controlled breeding program. Since it began working with the program in 1998, the Aquarium has successfully bred and raised 26 African penguin chicks.

“We’re thrilled to welcome four healthy African penguin chicks to Adventure Aquarium,” said Michele Pagel, Curator, Birds & Mammals, who has overseen the African penguin population since 1998.  “They are very vocal, growing strong and have great appetites!  Our staff has been busy caring for the new additions since we started hand raising the first set of chicks on January 5 and the second clutch on January 16, respectively.”


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 young penguins are doing well and growing fast.  In just a few months, the chicks will be the size of fully grown African penguins.  When the chicks first hatched just weeks ago they weighed less than two ounces each, the approximate weight and size of a golf ball, but have each grown to weigh approximately 2.7, 3.4, 4 and 4.6 pounds, respectively.  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.

The four 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.  Adventure Aquarium visitors will have the opportunity to see the chicks in the coming weeks.  Staff will bring one of the chicks out from the back of house area following African penguin feeds, dependent on weather.


All four African penguin chicks will make their official debut during a media event to be held at Adventure Aquarium’s Currents Ballroom tomorrow, Tuesday, January 31 beginning at 10:30am.  In addition, the names given to them by the Aquarium’s Bird and Mammal team members will be announced at that time.  We’ll be on FB Live so check it out!!!!

Follow our social media accounts to stay up-to-date on animal birth announcements as well as events and happenings!


Love is in the Air at Little Blue Beach


Are you a fan of ABC’s The Bachelor? Uh huh, we aren’t either…wink, wink. Well, we’re excited to have our very own Bachelor: Little Blue Beach Edition. Will they accept the rose (or maybe krill)?

Last week, Adventure Aquarium announced two adult female little blue penguins were added to the colony to help support the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s (AZA’s) Species Survival Plan (SSP).  With the new female penguins’ arrival the colony now consists of five females and six males. (Yay, more #girlpower!)


“We recently welcomed two female little blues, Maremma and Kororaa,” said Michele Pagel, Curator of Birds and Mammals at Adventure Aquarium.  “As recommended by AZA’s SSP, two of our eligible penguin bachelors, Indigo and Cobalt, were moved off exhibit to bond with these ladies behind the scenes.  We’ll have to wait and see if love blooms.”

Maremma, nine-months-old, and Kororaa, eight-years-old, arrived from New England Aquarium on December 14, 2016 and were placed into standard quarantine for one month.  On January 17, 2017, the male little blues were removed from Little Blue Beach and joined the females in their back of house area.  Staff will allow the birds time to bond in hopes they will pair off as mates.


The Aquarium participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s (AZA’s) little blue penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program that encourages zoos and aquariums to work in concert to help ensure the survival of little blue penguins through a scientifically-controlled breeding program.

Want to see the new ladies? Of course you do! You’ll have the opportunity to see Maremma and Kororaa on exhibit for the first time, along with the return of Indigo and Cobalt, in the coming weeks! Will they be paired up as couples? Who will they choose? We’ll share details about their debut and return on Facebook and our other social accounts – so stay tuned!


Instameet Me at AAQ?


We held our first-ever Adventure Aquarium Instameet on Sunday, January 8th at Little Blue Beach in Zone A and it was awesome!  The Instameet focused on our little blue penguins which seemed like a perfect fit since they are January’s Featured Creature of the Month.


We invited social media rock stars to participate in the Instameet by registering on our website.  From there, we gave them free reign of Little Blue Beach and allowed them exclusive access to our little blue colony before we opened to the public.  Imagine getting that perfect shot without worrying about someone stepping in front of your camera!

We can’t wait to see how these Instagram experts captured the little blues in their photos! We’ll share their images on our accounts later this month – so be on the lookout!

Are you interested in attending an #AAQInstameet?  We’re hosting them throughout the year so follow our social accounts to see when the next will be held and which animal will be featured.  Space is limited so we encourage you to register as soon as we announce the date.


Please note: To participate in an #AAQInstameet, you must register through, be an active Instagram user, at least 18 years of age and agree to a photography use agreement.