The Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk is 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.
The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk
10 N. Water Street
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
“Jiggle A Jelly” Touch-A-Jellyfish Special Exhibit
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.
The “Jiggle A Jelly” jellyfish touch tank lets visitors safely touch live moon jellyfish, one of the most common species in Long Island Sound. The special exhibit will be open near the Aquarium’s Jellyfish Culture Lab on weekends and holidays from Jan. 18 through April 20 – and also daily during school vacation weeks Feb. 17-21 and April 14-18.
“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.”
Moon jellies do have tentacles but their stings are generally harmless to people.
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.”
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 “Jiggle A Jelly” exhibit hasn’t been offered before.
“Jiggle A Jelly” is free with Aquarium admission.
IMAX movies daily through April 3, 2014:
“Great White Shark”
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. 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.
“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.
“Born to Be Wild”
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.
Many weekends through late March 2014. Dates and times vary by low tide.
Journey out onto Long Island Sound in hopes of seeing some of the seals that winter just off our shores during The Maritime Aquarium’s Seal-Watching Cruises.
These invigorating outings seek out the harbor seals and gray seals that come down into the Sound each winter. Educators aboard 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.
Seal-Watching Cruises will occur on many weekends from Dec. 28-29, 2013, through March 22-23, 2014. Dates and departure times will vary by the tide schedule.
Sat., March 8 at 10 a.m.
Sun., March 9 at noon
Sat., March 22 at 10 a.m.
Sun., March 23 at 11 a.m.
See the full season schedule at www.maritimeaquarium.org.
For reservations or more details, call (203) 852-0700, ext. 2206.
Lecture by Dr. Daniel Botkin
Monday, March 10 at 8 p.m.
Hear a unique and challenging perspective on ocean conservation – and on the state of the sciences in general – from “renegade naturalist” Dr. Daniel Botkin in a special lecture on Mon., March 10 at The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.
Dr. Botkin is a scientist who studies life from a planetary perspective, a biologist who has helped solve major environmental issues, and a writer about nature. Dr. Botkin is professor emeritus of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He was founder and president of The Center for the Study of the Environment, a non-profit research and educational corporation.
Bluntly on his website, he says: “I believe we are mostly on the wrong track in the way we try to deal with the environment. Everything I do, study, learn, and advise about the environment is different from the status quo. Throughout my career, I have tried to understand how nature works and use that understanding to figure out how we can solve our most pressing environmental problems. My process over the past 45 years has been to look carefully at the facts, make simple calculations from them (sometimes simple computer models) and then tell people what I have learned. It’s surprising how rarely people bother to look at the facts.”
“My exposure to Daniel Botkin via his book, ‘The Moon in the Nautilus Shell,’ cured me of the popular and unscientific environmental wisdom that equilibrium is the ideal state of the natural world,” Hokin said.
Tickets for Dr. Botkin’s talk are $20 ($15 for Aquarium members).
Saturday, March 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.
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.
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).