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A visit to the aquarium may include some unique close encounters. | (Amy Flory / Special to The Citizen.)

Day at the aquarium is a treat

A few weeks ago, my family took advantage of a weekend that offered the spring-like weather we’ve all been craving, and spent the day at the Mystic Aquarium.

We’ve been to the Mystic Aquarium many times, making the trek at least once a year. Our visiting family members love the quaint seaport, and my aquarium loving husband likes getting his annual sea life fix.

We all love the aquarium. My four-year-old daughter squealed with delight when she saw the adorable African penguins, and she and her six-year-old brother enjoyed seeing the penguins from several different perspectives, including two underwater viewing points. I was surprised to learn that in the past ten years, the African penguin population has declined by a whopping 70 percent, and that they face extinction. The aquarium has several ways to help this declining population, including adopting a penguin, and participating in the Penguin Walk/Run in October.

Another favorite exhibit is the beluga whales. Mystic boasts one of the largest outdoor beluga whale exhibits in the country, and every time we have visited the whales, they’ve been playful and engaging. On this particular day, one whale was so friendly, my son and I were almost startled out of our skin.

My boy’s favorite exhibits are the interactive ones. The Discovery Lab offers the chance to touch small crabs and sea stars, the Shark Encounter gets you up close and personal with a white-spotted bamboo shark, and the Ray Touch Pool is full of stingrays. He loves that he’s able to touch these creatures as he’s learning about them, and there is plenty of room for everyone to squeeze in around the large exhibit pools.

We all enjoyed the calm, quiet fluidity of the jellyfish tanks and the waving octopus, and my kids delighted in watching the flitting fish.

For me, though, nothing can compare to the California sea lions that perform in the Foxwoods Marine Theater show. Led by skilled trainers, the sea lions show their skills, and entertain young and old alike. The half hour show is included in the cost of admission, and takes place several times per day. Don’t miss this fun experience to see sea lions and their trainers in action.

Mystic Aquarium has free parking, a café on site for purchasing food and drinks, and an outside picnic area for those who pack a lunch. A hand stamp allows those who have paid to enter and exit freely. If you have your ticket validated, it is good for free admission for the next two days, a great option for folks spending more than one day in the area.

Check MysticAquarium.org for prices and hours of admission.



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