The New England Aquarium's immersive Animal Encounter programs take your visit to a whole new level—from perching on top of the four-story Giant Ocean Tank and feeding the animals or going behind the scenes of your favorite exhibits. Be sure to bring your curiosity and questions! Whether you have an unquenchable curiosity about marine animals or you want a brand new perspective on popular exhibits, these unique opportunities are designed for the Aquarium superfan.
- Meet Myrtle
- Behind-the-Scenes Tour
- Meet-and-Greet the Harbor Seals
- Paint with the Harbor Seals
- Meet-and-Greet the Fur Seals or Sea Lions
Myrtle the green sea turtle is our most famous resident. This brand-new encounter gives you a deep understanding of her home—the sparkling, four-story Giant Ocean Tank. You’ll start with a personalized tour spiraling up the exhibit’s ramp alongside staff members who know Myrtle and her tank mates best. Leave the public exhibit path and slip behind the scenes for a guided peek at the science, technology and husbandry necessary to manage this 200,000-gallon exhibit. Every day is different, you never know what you’ll see. The highlight of the experience is a chance to go onto the platform where surface feedings take place. You might serve up fish to barracuda, krill to needlefish or even a head of lettuce to Myrtle herself.
- Offered 12:45 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday and holidays (except Christmas and Thanksgiving)
- Lasts about 1 hour
- Limited to 2 participants per session
- For visitors ages 12 and older, visitors younger than 18 must be accompanied by an adult
- Cost: $125 per person, plus the cost of admission, admission is required ($110 for Members)
- Call Central Reservations at 617-973-5206 to book.
The gleaming exhibits on every floor of the New England Aquarium tell just a part of the story. Behind the scenes there are more fish tanks, plus pipes and hoses and food and a lot of hard work that goes into keeping the Aquarium running smoothly. Get a personalized peek at the life behind the glass of one of our many galleries. You’ll join an educator and head where the action is that day to see aquarists at work. Bring your questions and sponge up all there is to learn about what the animals eat, how their tanks are maintained, how sick animals are nursed back to health and a host of other insider tidbits.
- Offered twice daily, 11 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.
- Last about 45 minutes
- Limited to groups of 8 people
- For visitors ages 7 and up, and are especially interesting for adult visitors
- Cost: $20 per person, plus the cost of admission, and admission is required ($18 for Members)
- Book online or all Central Reservations at 617-973-5206.
Come meet our charming harbor seals! Get a behind-the-scenes look at the harbor seal exhibit, sit next to a trainer during a session. You will have a variety of opportunities to interact with the seals. Interactions vary from day to day and are done at the trainer's discretion. You may have a chance to rub a seal's belly and back, give some signals to a seal, get splashed, touch a flipper or even touch a seal's tongue. Most of the time the seals are willing to give a kiss as well!
- Program runs daily from 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
- Lasts about 30 minutes
- $75 plus the cost of admission, admission required ($65 for members)
- Maximum number of participants: 2
- Ages: 7 and older (Children ages 7 to 9 must be accompanied by an adult who is a paid program participant.)
- This program runs Tuesday through Friday and Sundays
- Call Central Reservations at 617-973-5206 to book these marine mammal programs.
Paint with the Seals
See first-hand the artistic abilities of our harbor seals and take home a beautiful memento of your close encounter. Participants in each painting session will be invited into the Atlantic harbor seal exhibit to learn about this intelligent local species while working side-by-side with a trainer. As part of the day's exercises, your seal will paint a masterpiece using a specially adapted brush and three colors of your choosing. The seals at the Aquarium create colorful paintings with a couple flicks of their head or flipper.
- Offered Monday and Saturday at 11:00 am
- Lasts approximately 30 minutes
- $150 per person for a large painting, plus Aquarium admission ($135 for members)
$100 per person for a small painting, plus Aquarium admission ($90 for members)
- Limit: 1 participant
- Ages: 9 and older
- Professional photographers will be on hand to document your encounter (for an additional fee).
- Book online or call Central Reservations at 617-973-5206
Come behind the scenes and get to know a Northern fur seal or a California sea lion! Join marine mammal trainers in the open-air New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center exhibit and you will have a variety of opportunities to interact with the seals. Interactions vary from day to day. You could touch a seal's thick fur, get a flipper shake or even play a game of "copy cat."
- Offered weekends at 10:15 am
- Lasts approximately 30 minutes
- $75 per person, plus Aquarium admission ($65 for Members)
- 2 participants
- Ages: 7 and older (Children ages 7 to 9 must be accompanied by a paying adult who is a paid participant.)
How to Book
Our popular Animal Encounter programs fill up quickly. Be sure to reserve your space! Call Central Reservations at 617-973-5206 before your visit to book a memorable up-close experience.