Just a 40 mile drive from the heart of the nation’s capital, the award-winning National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland, is a major regional attraction hosting 1.5 million visitors every year. It’s a cornerstone of tourism in Baltimore’s sleek Inner Harbor district, where it entertains visitors alongside other attractions such as sightseeing cruises, Port Discovery Children’s Museum, historic ships like the USS Constellation, and lots of dining and shopping options at Harborplace and The Gallery.
The 33 year-old National Aquarium is a self-supported non-profit organization devoted to conservation and education about the world’s oceans and other aquatic environments. Between its many highly naturalistic exhibits of aquatic and terrestrial life, the aquarium is home to over 17,000 individual fish, birds, reptiles, and other animals representing 750 different species.
The newest exhibit, Blacktip Reef, recently celebrated its first anniversary on August 8th. The ambitious display replicates life on an Indo-Pacific reef, with nearly 800 creatures that can be viewed from several different perspectives, including a floor-to-ceiling pop-out viewing window. While walking through this exhibit, guests can check out a 500-pound sea turtle named Calypso; a spiky, camouflaged wobbegong shark; countless colorful varieties of tropical fish; and a school of blacktip sharks. Even people who can’t make it there in person can enjoy Blacktip Reef via an online Shark Cam!
The aquarium has several additional exhibits that explore other ecosystems such as an Atlantic coral reef, a tropical rain forest, and an Australian river gorge. It also offers a number of “Immersion Tours,” allowing more in-depth experiences. These include guided tours of the public exhibits, a behind-the-scenes look at the site’s veterinary facilities, a supervised dive in the Atlantic reef exhibit, an interactive dolphin encounter, and much more.
Anyone with an interest in marine life should definitely consider a stop by the National Aquarium if they find themselves traveling through the Washington, D.C., area.