THE MARITIME AQUARIUM AT NORWALK, 10 N. Water Street, Norwalk, CT; (203) 852-0700, www.MaritimeAquarium.org. Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The only Aquarium focused on Long Island Sound presents sharks, seals, river otters, sea turtles, jellyfish and more than 100 other species from Long Island Sound and its watershed. Two staffed touch tanks allow hands-on close encounters with intertidal animals and a chance to touch live sharks and rays. “Go Fish!” explores our cultural relationship with the sea through fishing and the sustainable seafood movement. “Ocean Playspace” offers fun for toddlers and a rest for big people. Marine Lab shows visitors how we care for marine animals, including raising baby seahorses and jellies. IMAX® theater offers the largest movie screen in Connecticut. And, on weekends (daily in July & August), come aboard for exciting hands-on study cruises out onto the Sound aboard the research vessel Oceanic.
“Jiggle A Jelly” Touch-A-Jellyfish Special Exhibit
Photo Credit: Misty Enright
NORWALK, CT – Fabien Cousteau checks out the sharks in The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, during a photo session for Town & Country magazine in September. Cousteau will return to The Maritime Aquarium for a lecture on Thurs., Feb. 6 to preview his 31-day “Mission 31” expedition this spring to the Aquarius underwater laboratory off the Florida Keys. Tickets for the talk are $30 ($25 for Aquarium members). Get them at www.maritimeaquarium.org or call (203) 852-0700, ext. 2206.
Open weekends, holidays & school vacation weeks Jan. 18 – April 20
The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk is turning conventional beach wisdom upside down, by inviting its visitors to do something they’ve been told not to do all their lives: touch a jellyfish.
A special “Jiggle A Jelly” touch-a-jellyfish exhibit lets visitors safely touch live moon jellyfish, one of the most common species in Long Island Sound.
“Most people who have seen jellyfish at the beach have gone out of their way to avoid them; to give them a very wide berth,” said Judith Bacal, the Aquarium’s exhibits director. “We’re offering this exhibit to demonstrate that there are jellyfish that you can touch without being stung.”
The special exhibit of jellies will be open near the Aquarium’s Jellyfish Culture Lab on weekends, holidays and school vacation weeks from Jan. 18 through April 20. Maritime Aquarium volunteers will staff the exhibit, encouraging visitors to use two fingers to gently touch the top of the jellyfishes’ gelatinous body or “bell.”
Moon jellies do have tentacles but their stings are generally harmless to people.
Displaying jellyfish is nothing new for The Maritime Aquarium. A mesmerizing gallery featuring moon jellies and other live species of jellyfish is now in its 19th year at the Aquarium and remains among the most popular and memorable displays for visitors. But this new “Touch A Jellyfish” exhibit hasn’t been offered before.
“Touch A Jellyfish” will be free with Aquarium admission.
Connecticut’s largest IMAX theater, with a screen that’s six stories high and eight stories wide. Confirm the movie schedule before visiting by calling or going online.
IMAX movies daily through April 3, 2014:
“Great White Shark”
Call or go online for IMAX show times.
No other modern animal may command both our fears and fascination as much as the great white shark – but The Maritime Aquarium’s new IMAX film suggests, instead, that these incredible predators mainly need our help and respect.
“Great White Shark” unravels the mystery of the creature we love to fear in telling the true story of its role atop the oceanic food chain.
“Our mission is to change people’s attitudes toward the great white,” said Steve McNicholas, co-director of the film. “It’s not the menacing, evil predator it’s made out to be. It’s simply performing its crucial role at the top of the ocean’s food chain. Great whites are not monsters any more than the polar bears or lions that we revere.”
The 40-minute film takes viewers around the world to great-white hotspots and examines what we know about these incredible animals through the eyes of several people whose lives and work have become inextricably linked to the great white, including shark expert Michael Rutzen, who openly scuba dives among them.
Call or go online for IMAX show times.
“Tornado Alley” blows into the only Connecticut movie theater big enough to handle it: the IMAX Theater at The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.
“Tornado Alley” invites audiences along with a daring team of “storm chasers” as they work to understand the origins and evolution of tornadoes. Sean Casey, star of the Discovery Channel’s “Storm Chasers” reality series, leads this mission to document one of Earth’s most awe-inspiring events – the birth of a tornado. Armed with a fleet of customized vehicles designed to withstand gale-force winds and an arsenal of the most advanced weather instruments ever created, the “Tornado Alley” crew take audiences on a thrilling quest to experience a tornado’s incredible power at point-blank range.
At the same time, a team of equally driven scientists, the Vortex2 researchers, surround tornadoes and the super-cell storms that form them, gathering the most comprehensive severe weather data ever collected.
Major funding for “Tornado Alley” was provided by the National Science Foundation.
“Born to Be Wild”
Call or go online for IMAX show times.
This inspiring film follows orphaned baby orangutans and elephants, and the extraordinary people who rescue and raise them for eventual release back into the wild.
This heartwarming adventure transports audiences into the lush rain forests of Borneo with renowned primatologist Dr. Biruté Mary Galdikas, and across the rugged Kenyan savannah with celebrated elephant authority Dame Daphne Sheldrick, as they and their teams rescue, rehabilitate and return these incredible animals back to the wild.
It’s narrated by Academy-Award® winner Morgan Freeman.
Winter Vacation Adventures, for ages 6 to 12
Feb. 17-21, each day from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Kids ages 6 to 12 can keep busy over their winter school break with this fun exploration of our natural world.
Ages 6 to 9: One-day programs are offered, with a different themed topic each day, including “Motion Madness,” “Mammal Mania” and “Wacky Science Day.” Sign up for one, some or all days. See the Aquarium’s web site – www.maritimeaquarium.org – for all the daily topics and activities. Cost is $98 per day, or $435 for all five days. (Members’ prices: $78 per day or $348 for the week.)
Ages 9 to 12: Older kids can participate in a five-day “Junior Marine Biologist” program. Activities include setting up and stocking an aquarium display, testing water chemistry, dissections and using microscopes to peer into Long Island Sound’s unseen marine life. Cost is $435 ($348 for members).
No matter the child’s age, all programs run from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Pre-care, from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., is available for $17 per day or $72 for the week. (Members: $14/day and $58/week.) Extra care, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., is available for $33 per day or $143 for the week. (Members: $26/day and $114/week.)
Students should bring a bag lunch, a snack and an appetite for adventure.
Advance registration is required. Call (203) 852-0700, ext. 2206.
Toy Boat-Making Workshop
From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays & Sundays
Visit the toy boat-making area on weekends for a fun 20-minute boat-building project. Build and decorate a toy sailboat to take home as a special keepsake of your visit. Cost: $5 per child (plus Aquarium admission).
Lecture by Fabien Cousteau
Photo Credit: Maritime Aquarium
NORWALK, CT – Touch live moon jellyfish without getting stung in a special “Touch A Jellyfish” exhibit that will be open at The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk on weekends, holidays and school vacation weeks from Jan. 18 through April 20. Get more details at www.maritimeaquarium.org.
Thurs., Feb. 6 at 8 p.m.
This spring, Fabien Cousteau will try to do something that his famous grandfather never did: stay underwater for 31 straight days. Fabien will preview this scientific adventure, and share other insights and experiences, in a special lecture on Thurs., Feb. 6 at The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.
Cousteau is a grandson of Jacques Cousteau, inventor of SCUBA gear and an inspiration to millions of ocean-lovers through his unique television shows of the 1960s & ‘70s, “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.”
Growing up on the decks of his grandfather’s research vessels, Calypso and Alcyone, Fabien Cousteau was destined to work to protect our planet’s immense and endangered marine habitats. He champions the family legacy as a third-generation ocean explorer and filmmaker.
This spring, Cousteau will lead an exploration named Mission 31 that intends to spend 31 days in Aquarius, the only undersea marine habitat and lab in the world. This endeavor will break new ground in ocean exploration and also coincide with the 50th anniversary of his grandfather’s 30-day experiment living in an underwater lab beneath the Red Sea.
Aquarius, owned by NOAA and managed by Florida International University, is located in 63 feet of water in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, nine miles south of Key Largo. The lab will serve as base camp for Cousteau’s team as they explore climate, pollution and overconsumption problems in the reefs outside Aquarius.
Mission 31 will broadcast the expedition on the Internet and through Skype in the Classroom, allowing the world to share in the adventure, risk and mystique of what lies beneath. Cousteau called the broadcast aspect “the most extensive far-reaching underwater classroom ever created.”
From his vast experience in the field, coupled with a degree in environmental economics from Boston University, Fabien Cousteau has refined a public-policy platform grounded by his strong belief that environmental discipline can be the basis for innovative solutions that strike a balance between regional and global environmental problems and the realities of market economics.
Cousteau has worked with National Geographic, Discovery, PBS and CBS to produce ocean exploration documentaries. In 2006, he partnered with his father, Jean-Michel, and sister, Celine, for an ongoing multi-year series for PBS called “Ocean Adventures.” In 2010, he launched Plant-A-Fish, an innovative nonprofit organization designed to empower communities and children to help restore their local water ecosystems through the healthy “replanting” of key marine species.
Cousteau shares his guidance as a member of multiple boards, including SeaKeepers Society, Water Innovation Alliance, Millennium Project, Blue Ocean Film Festival and One World One Ocean.
Tickets for Fabien Cousteau’s talk at The Maritime Aquarium are $30 ($25 for Aquarium members).
Moffly Media is exclusive magazine sponsor of the Aquarium lecture series, which also will feature:
Environmentalist Dr. Daniel Botkin on Mon., March 10.
Sharon, CT, dentist Dr. Martin Nweeia, an expert on the rare narwhal, on Mon., April 7.
Zookeeper/ TV host Jack Hanna for two shows on Tues., May 7.
and Weston, CT, author Richard Hyman, who will talk about his expeditions aboard Jacques Cousteau’s Calypso, on Mon., June 23.
To reserve tickets or for more details about the Cousteau lecture or others in the series, call (203) 852-0700 or go to www.maritimeaquarium.org.
Winter Creature Cruises
Many weekends through early April 2014. Dates and times vary by low tide.
Journey out onto Long Island Sound in hopes of seeing some of the seals that spend the winter just off our shores during The Maritime Aquarium’s 2014 season of Winter Creature Cruises.
These invigorating cruises seek out the harbor seals and gray seals that have been coming down into the Sound each winter. Educators on board the research vessel Oceanic will point out these federally protected marine mammals and talk about their natural histories. They’ll also help identify such winter waterfowl as buffleheads, mergansers and long-tailed ducks.
Winter Creature Cruises will occur on many weekends from Dec. 28-29, 2013, through April 5, 2014. Dates and departure times will vary by the tide schedule. Cruises include: Sat., Feb. 8 at noon; Sun., Feb. 9 at 1 p.m.; Sat., Feb. 22 at 10 a.m.; and Sun., Feb. 23 at 11 a.m. See the full season schedule at www.maritimeaquarium.org.
Tickets for a Winter Creature Cruise are $22.95, or $17.95 for Aquarium members. Maritime Aquarium Study Cruises are good for ages 8 and older. We recommend that you bring binoculars and plenty of warm clothes!
Space on the Oceanic is limited so advance reservations are strongly recommended. Walk-up tickets will be sold, space permitting. The cruises depart from the dock outside the Aquarium’s IMAX movie theater.
For reservations or more details, call (203) 852-0700, ext. 2206.
Sat., Feb. 15 at 8:15 a.m.
The Maritime Aquarium opens its backstage spaces for a rare behind-the-scenes tour. Conducted before the Aquarium opens, from 8:15 to 10 a.m., the guided tour offers unique opportunities to see how the animal-husbandry staff meets the varying food and water needs of some 2,000 resident animals.
The tour includes stops at the “fish kitchen,” where 18 tons of fish a year is prepared, and above the 110,000-gallon Open Ocean tank, where the dorsal fins of 8-foot sand tiger sharks cut through the water surface. Learn the delicate requirements of a jellyfish “nursery.”
Participants must be at least 10 years old; under 15 must be accompanied by an adult. Cost is $25 ($22.50 for Aquarium members). The tour is limited to 25 people, so reservations are strongly recommended. Walk-up tickets will be sold, space permitting. For reservations or more details, call (203) 852-0700, ext. 2206.
Special exhibit open daily
A family of meerkats, one of Africa’s most entertaining species, burrows into visitors’ hearts in this special exhibit at The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.
No mere cats, meerkats (Suricata suricatta) are fascinating for living in structured but cooperative societies, including a foraging strategy where adults take turns standing guard upright on their hind feet, watching for predators, while the others eat.
The meerkats’ exhibit offers lots of opportunities for climbing, digging and exploring, with several feeding locations to keep them always on the alert for incoming crickets. And a viewing bubble lets visitors pop up right among the meerkats.
Free with Aquarium admission.
“Africa: From the Desert to the Sea”
Special exhibit open daily
Explore the aquatic wonders of Africa, including amazing fish from the Nile River, the lakes of Africa’s Great Rift Valley and the Red Sea. Species highlighted include exotic air-breathing lungfish that can survive for a year if their waterhole goes dry, and colorful
cichlids and coral reef species that shine in shimmering rainbows.
Free with Aquarium admission.
10 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily. (Closed only Thanksgiving Day & Christmas Day)
Call (203) 852-0700 or go online to www.maritimeaquarium.org.
Aquarium only: $19.95 for adults; $17.95 for both youths (13-17) and seniors (65+); and $12.95 for children 3-12. Members and kids 2 & under, free.
Discount Combo tickets (Aquarium + IMAX movie): $24.95 for adults; $22.95 for both youths (13-17) and seniors (65+); and $17.95 children for 3-12.
IMAX movie: $9.50; $7 for kids 2-12. Members save $2.
Hollywood IMAX movies: $11.50; $9.50 for kids 2-12. Members save $1.