Friday, May 27, 2011

Discover Long Island Sound at The Maritime Aquarium

Last week our twins turned four and my husband had the idea of taking them to The Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, CT for their birthday. While both my husband and our six year old had been there several times before, the rest of had not. So once the boys go home from school around noon, we had a quick lunch and then packed into the minivan to head on over.

The Maritime Aquarium focuses on the marine animals of the Long Island Sound and its watershed. The Long Island Sound watershed consists of the entire state of Connecticut plus areas of new York, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine and even Canada. The Maritime Aquarium strives to protect the sound and reminds us that the actions of those living in the watershed area directly affect the sound and the well being of its animals.

"The Maritime Aquarium inspires people of all ages to appreciate Long Island Sound and protect it for future generations. A vibrant and entertaining learning environment, the Maritime Aquarium achieves this goal through living exhibits, marine science, and environmental education."

When we got there we were greeted by very friendly and helpful staff. We were also thrilled that there were hardly any visitors there! It pays to go on a school day (assuming your kids are not in school yet). A few weeks earlier my husband and oldest son were there during spring break and said it was insane. So go on an "off peak" day if you can. The twins were so super excited at this point and could not wait to go in and see the animals. Here is a short photo journey of our trip. You'll notice that photography is not my strong point. Someday I will learn how to use this expensive camera properly.

Our Visit

First up was the stingray touch pool where the kids were able to put their hands right in and touch some of the rays. The boys loved it and we made a second trip back to it at the end.

They were obsessed with this "baby stingray" and our oldest would not leave until he got to touch it.

The flounder exhibit was very cool and because it is at about knee level, the kids were able to get right up to it and look down at the fish. It was definitely difficult to try and spot all of the flounders camouflaged in the sand.

The meerkats are the only exhibit that is not an animal from the Long Island Sound watershed. Children (and adults) can crawl into the little bubble to get a close up view of these little guys running around.

At the Go Fish exhibit their is a a 30,000 gallon tank filled with various fish that reside in the Long Island Sound like salmon, cod, striped bass and more. Unfortunately non of my pictures of the fish came out.

In the Go Fish area there is a child size mock boat where kids can try out some fishing (with paper fish). There is also information on which fish are OK to eat and catch.

We spent a lot of time in the frog area as our boys could not get enough of them! There were a lot of tanks filled with frogs and salamanders with plenty of step stools so the kids could see them better. I loved these vibrantly colored frogs. So cute!

And there were your larger more typical looking frogs. There were even others that I swear were as large as a chihuahua. I didn't like those as much.

The river otters were super cute and incredibly active. They were swimming and jumping and a lot of fun to watch. Our boys kept running back and forth with the otters.

We spotted some starfish as we made our way through the many exhibits.

The shark tank was HUGE and even had stadium seating. The boys were in awe of the big sharks swimming around. {insert Jaws music}

The jellyfish tank was pretty awesome and we even got to see a staff member feed them. I much prefer looking at jellyfish this way than out in the real world. I really don't like when they creep up along side of me in the ocean. Not cool.

Look! We found Nemo and Dorie!!!

At long last we made it to the sea turtles. I say this because the six year old would not stop talking about the giant sea turtle the entire walk through the aquarium. I guess this particular sea turtle left a big impression on him during his prior visit. Then I saw why. Wow.

If you follow the flow of the map, your tour through the aquarium both begins and ends at the harbor seals. This was my favorite part as I love watching them swim around and jump up on the rocks. Plus they have such adorable faces.

We finished our walk through the aquarium just in time to watch the last seal feeding. The trainer came out out with two buckets of fish and told us all about the seals living there at the aquarium.

In addition to the traditional aquarium exhibits, The Maritime Aquarium also has some fun extras: an IMAX theater, and adventure ride and a cruise around the Long Island Sound (in season). We did not have time for the IMAX movie this time around, but my husband and son saw the movie Born to be Wild back in April and they loved it. In fact my son's exact words after exiting the theater were "That was the coolest movie ever!"

Daddy did take the older 3 into the Happy Feet 3D adventure ride while I stayed back with the little guy. They did seem to enjoy it and asked if they could do it again. Overall we had a wonderful afternoon at The Maritime Aquarium and everyone really enjoyed themselves. I am glad we decided to make it part of their special day.

The Maritime Aquarium is open year round except on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. There are always several special exhibits going on, like the meerkats, for you and your family to enjoy. Right now there is also an interesting special exhibit "Seasons of Change, Global Warming in Your Backyard" which examines how global warming is affecting New England. Hours, ticket prices, special events and exhibits can all be found on their website, With the school year set to end in about a month, a visit to The Maritime Aquarium is a nice way to spend a hot summer day. So go ahead and plan your tip now, you'll be happy you did.

I leave you with one final thought: remember that we are all connected! What we do in our own backyard can make its way into streams and then rivers and then oceans. Maybe before you spray pesticides over your lawn or dump chemicals down the drain, you can stop and think about how those actions may harm other creatures and choose an alternative method.

Connect with The Maritime Aquarium on Facebook at

My family and I received complimentary tickets to The Maritime Aquarium. All opinions and views expressed here are my own.


  1. I love the Meerkats one! Sooo cool and cute! I love Aquariums.. I think it's time to take my boys back to see one soon! This one isn't too far away so maybe that's where we will go! Thanks for sharing your fun time!

  2. That Meerkat exhibit is AWESOME! And I love the turtle, Nemo and Dory, the sharks - it looks so awesome!

    Of course, I live in Phoenix, but what a great place to visit should we ever be in the neighborhood!

  3. Looks like fun, I'm in NH and we love to go on road trips so I'll keep this in my list!

  4. Oh my what fun! Love all the pictures. We would love to visit there one day :)

  5. How fun. When I was younger we would go to my aunts in Baltimore and hit the aquarium it was always a blast. I need to take the kids.

  6. I love all your awesome pictures. I love all aquatic life, what a great place to visit!

  7. Thank you so much for sharing - it looks like you had a great time. I'm always concerned about using too many photos but your collection is great and really makes me feel like I'm sharing in your fun!


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