Beyond the Aquarium
As superheroes go, Aquaman is up there among our favorites. Because, you know, oceans.
But the amphibious muscleman in the latest blockbuster has another claim on our hearts: one of his first experiences communing with marine animals happened at a Boston aquarium.
Of course, we all know a “Boston aquarium” can only be our very own New England Aquarium. A place where millions of people have been introduced to otherworldly, fascinating marine animals. A place where schoolchildren have dipped their hands in salty water to touch sea stars and cownose rays. A place where visitors can make their own connections with our blue planet.
Here’s a peek at the Aquaman trailer. Note that this film is not playing at our Simons IMAX Theatre. We’re just excited about an ocean-loving, ocean-protecting superhero!
You might have a few questions after seeing that aquarium scene. Setting aside the fact the actual location is most definitely not the New England Aquarium, let’s dissect that scene a bit:
Cracking Aquarium Glass
Not going to happen here for a couple reasons. At 23 feet deep and 200,000 gallons, the Giant Ocean Tank is our largest exhibit. It has very thick acrylic windows, several inches wide, that cannot actually crack that way. Plus, the animals that live in this four-story Caribbean reef exhibit aren’t even that big. The largest animal in the exhibit is Myrtle the green sea turtle. She’s a gentle giant that lumbers about the exhibit weighing in at over 530 pounds. She wouldn’t be able to break a window if she tried!
Giant Sharks and Manta Rays
You will not find large sharks and manta rays at the New England Aquarium. These species can grow to be massive and need a lot of room to stay healthy, and we just couldn’t humanely keep an animal that large even in our largest exhibit. Some manta rays can reach up to 23 feet wide from wingtip to wingtip. That more than half the diameter of our Giant Ocean Tank (40 feet)!
Just like Aquaman forged special connections to ocean animals at the Aquarium, so can you!
(In your own way, of course.)
And now that we know it’s not possible for us to humanely keep large manta rays and sharks, let’s talk about what you CAN see and learn about at the New England Aquarium!
Sharks and Rays
Our Giant Ocean Tank is home to a couple bonnethead sharks, the smallest relative of the hammerhead shark family. In our Science of Sharks exhibit, you can meet epaulette and coral cat sharks, to name a few, as well as learn some juicy fun facts about this fascinating group of animals. You can even touch sharks and rays in our Trust Family Foundation Shark and Ray Touch Tank! Cownose rays are petite younger cousins of manta rays, slippery smooth and charmingly friendly. Bummed about not seeing manta rays? You might be excited to know that the Aquarium supports manta rays in the wild! Through our Marine Conservation Action Fund (MCAF), we provided funding to researchers in Sri Lanka and Peru to study and protect these gentle giants.
Arguably everyone’s favorite seafaring bird, you can find more than 80 of these dapper little swimmers in our 150,000-gallon exhibit. They squawk, they swim, they waddle, and they can swallow their fish whole! You can spend hours watching them going about their business. And we’re also planning an icy surprise featuring penguins on our front plaza next week ahead of First Night celebrations. Just saying.
Seals and Sea Lions
Fur seals have the second thickest fur in the animal kingdom. Sea lions are acrobatic speedsters in the water. Harbor seals are sea doggos if you’ve ever seen them. And then there’s Ron, our growing sea lion pup, who can woo any visitor just by being his lounge-y self. Not only is it interesting to watch the trainers work with these intelligent marine mammals, but many of their rescue stories are truly riveting. Be sure to ask the trainers!
You mean, like, spineless creatures? How exciting are those? Very, if you consider watching Freya the giant Pacific octopus roil her arms or splay her suckers across the glass to be the making of a fascinating afternoon adventure! From touching sea stars in our tidepool touch tank to watching cuttlefish nab a shrimp with their lightning-fast tentacles to wildly colorful lobsters, we celebrate the spineless here at the Aquarium.
Making strong connections with our vital and vibrant ocean is so important.
That’s because people protect what they love. Come fall in love with penguins and sea turtles and octopus and find out what you can do to help protect these remarkable ocean animals. This holiday break, come channel your inner Aquaman and visit the New England Aquarium and commune with some fascinating animals from our blue planet.