Throughout the summer, I spotted a few billboards around town advertising visiting Maritime Aquarium in South Norwalk. But it wasn’t until a recent commute home one day did I realize that I had never been to an aquarium before, like ever!
Visiting Maritime Aquarium
Walking towards the main entrance, I was greeted by a giant orange octopus with long arms that extended in all directions. Kids ran through the front doors in excitement, and I quickly followed suit. Just like them, I couldn’t wait for the up-close encounters with the animals.
Maritime Aquarium is the only aquarium in the world devoted to the Long Island Sound. The Long Island Sound, Connecticut’s front yard, is home to thousands of animals including sea turtles, harbor seals, otters, sharks and even bearded dragons. There are over 150 documented shipwrecks in and around the Long Island Sound with the earliest dating back to 1779. Maritime Aquarium is also the only place in New England where you can touch sharks and jellies!
The Lay of The Land
The Maritime Aquarium was colorful and inviting. I especially loved how the walls were studded with quirky jokes that made me laugh-out-loud.
During my visit, I toured five exhibits. The exhibits were fun and interactive, perfect for exploring salt marshes and diving deeper into the Sound. I learned about how the animals live, reproduce, defend themselves and migrate. I even saw an otter feeding – I had no idea that otters eat fish in chunks, pulling and tugging away till their meal is all gone!
Upstairs offered a bird’s eye view of the harbor seals as well as a small balcony for those who needed some fresh air. The balcony is another great vantage point to take in views of the beautiful riverside courtyard.
The aquarium features an IMAX theater, a cafe with healthy food options and a gift shop. Maritime’s IMAX Theater is actually the largest in Connecticut – it’s as tall as a six-story building! Since one standard movie is included in your admission, it’s worth checking out during your visit.
To help capture awesome moments like this one, I appreciated Maritime’s helpful photography tips posted around the aquarium. For the best photos, get your camera lens close to the glass to prevent a glare.
The six female harbor seals at the Maritime Aquarium were active and playful. With dog-like faces, they twisted and twirled underwater. I especially loved seeing them swim upside down.
Did you know that seals are air-breathing mammals? They can stay underwater for up to 30 minutes. One seal was even lying still at the bottom of the pool either resting or sleeping.
Don’t miss the seal feedings during the “Seal Training Demonstrations” at 11:45 a.m., 1:45 p.m. or 3:45 p.m.
After visiting the seals, next, I checked out the small flock of Chilean flamingos. Considered “near threatened”, Maritime had the only flamingo exhibit in Connecticut this summer. At the end of the season, these beautiful flamingos will head back to a zoo in Louisana.
Notice their webbed toes and pale feathers. Their pale pink plumage is a distinguishing trait of the Chilean flamingo species. Their toes help with walking in mud and swimming.
Having the longest bird legs, I loved seeing them standing peacefully on one leg. Flamingos rest and sleep in a one-legged stand facing the wind.
“Journey With Jellies” was my favorite exhibit at Maritime. Housing the most jellies in New England, the Maritime exhibit had all sorts of native and exotic jelly species which I have never seen before.
Did you know that jellies are the earliest known animals to have organized issue? Nutrients and oxygen pass through their cells and they use their muscles to swim.
The jelly display was visually stunning. Watching the jellies gracefully swim past each other almost made me forget how painful a jellyfish sting can be! With the subtle changing colors and mellow rhythms of the soundtrack in the background, the display did a fantastic job showcasing their simplicity and timeless beauty. It was like watching moving art. So have a seat and enjoy the view.
Visiting the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk is an affordable and educational outing for families, couples, friends or even solo. It’s also an excellent rainy day activity since most of the sights are indoors.
So spend a few hours getting to know the animals at Maritime Aquarium or spend the entire day. Oh, and this just proves that you can have lots of fun at the aquarium even as an adult!
What’s your favorite part about visiting aquariums?
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (until 6 p.m. from July and August).
Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day
I was a guest of Maritime Aquarium, of course, all opinions are my own.
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