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Old 12/31/2005, 11:54 AM   #1
jwedehase
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The Georgia Aquarium (VERY Photo Intense)

First things first: reefbucket.com deserves a huge thank you for hosting these photos! He claims unlimited bandwidth, so let's only hope it's true. Please pay the site a visit, check out his banners so he gets paid.

Also, if you recognize or ARE anyone in these photos... well... congrats, you're famous. I didn't know anyone there, so that's just the way it went.
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I had the opportunity to visit the new Georgia Aquarium last week. I was there at their 4 week anniversary. My first impression was amazement and a "Hats Off" to the engineers and architects. The place was packed like a sardine can, and I never felt crowded, and never had any problems with lines. The whole place just flowed, very well. Perfect engineering, in my opinion.

The building is set up with a central main chamber, with 5 "Galleries" accessible from this central common room. Each gallery flowed with an entrance and exit. The 5 galleries were:

Tropical Diver: The reef
Ocean Explorer: The 6.2 Million gallon centerpiece of the aquarium
Cold Water Quest (The Chilly Unknown): Various cold SW aqariums, including the centerpiece with 5 beluga whales
River Scout: Fresh water. Much more than I expected
Georgia Explorer: Local items, including the Gulf

Access to the Aquarium was very easy. The freeway (75 south) was already extremely well marked.



Once you exit the freeway, there's pretty much no question as to where the aquarium is. They say they were going for that "bow of a ship" look.



Parking was a non-issue, as they had their own multi-level garage. But bring some cash, it's $16/day. The line for tickets (reservation only) wrapped half way around the building. The building took up the entire block.



Then the switchbacks. Everyone was being wanded, security was tight. Even still, it was less than an hour to get through the entire line. It was a constant walking speed, never stop-n-go. Again.. go engineers!



Once through the entire line, I finally see the front doors.



The entrance foyer was flanked by two tanks filled with lookdowns. You walked between them, and into the main central lobby. The white squares on the floor are LED lighting.



The central lobby was pretty large, and my lens simply didn't go wide enough to catch even half of it.



One of the walls had a multi-dimensional video projection screen up high. It helped create the illusion of being under water.





Last edited by Skipper; 04/08/2006 at 04:13 PM.
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Old 12/31/2005, 12:01 PM   #2
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Ocean Explorer

So it was a toss-up as to which gallery to visit first. We decided on the big tank. This is the 6.2 Million gallon tank that houses over 100,000 fish, including 2 45' whale sharks.

The entrance had a window to the back of the tank. A teaser.



There was a pretty long tunnel, right through the center of the tank, to get to the other side, where the main viewing pane was.



A school of rays from underneath.



One of multiple hammerheads. This one was probably about 10 feet long.



All the yellow fish are golden Trivolis (spelling?). The following photo was taken at the end of the tunnel, across the tank width-wise. Notice you can't see the far side. That's not just a poor photo. The size of the tank hid all the walls from view. Notice also the natural substrate, at foot level. I really liked this, especially when the only other LARGE tank I've seen is MBA's million-gallon, with tile floors. There were 5 foot manta rays burying themselves in this sand, so I'm assuming it's at least a couple of feet deep.



And the window, the glorious window! This is maybe half of the window. I'd guess it was probably 80 feet wide. It was over twice as wide as it was tall. When we were in the tunnel gawking, one of the employees urged "Oh, just move through this. You're going to come around the corner and just say 'Oh my God!'" And we did.





Last edited by Skipper; 04/08/2006 at 04:16 PM.
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Old 12/31/2005, 12:02 PM   #3
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Here's some of the amazement that pictures can only attempt to display.



Notice the whale shark behind the school of rays. The rays all moved so slowly and gracefully, each flapping wings like birds in slow motion as they swept through.







In that last photo, the sawfish was probably 8 feet from mouth to tail, and the 10 foot hammerhead is at the bottom again.

There were also some more usual fish, like this grouper.



This zebra shark was one of my favorites because of his tail. He looked like a rocket shooting through the water at 500MPH, even when just floating by.



A bowmouth guitarfish. The fisherman caught this on accident and called Georgia Aquarium because they knew they had something special. This is only the second one ever to be brought to the USA. He was about 9 feet long. They are actually a ray, not a shark.



How 'bout them teeth? Smile for the camera!!



One more wide shot. It was so nice having the sand right at your feet. It reallly made you feel like you were IN there.



And check out this acrylic!! They had a piece of the 24" acrylic on display, so you could see what the tank was made out of.




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Last edited by Skipper; 04/09/2006 at 08:43 AM.
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Old 12/31/2005, 12:05 PM   #4
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Cold Water Quest

Next up was the Cold Water Quest.



As you entered, there was a kelp forest on the left (fake kelp, for you MBA fans), and an anemone and urchin touch tank on the right.

Note: Just after I posted this, I noticed how the following two shots almost looked stitched together for a vertical panoramic. That's pretty much how it looked.





Next in line was the Spider Crab, Ratfish, and Cnidarian tank. They claimed these Spider Crabs could get as large as a small car. I dunno. These were about 1.5 to 2 feet tall with bent legs.







There was a pretty nice seahorse tank. Several leafy and weedy dragons roamed the tank. You can also see the thickness of the acrylic in this shot.



African Penguins (no polar caps for these tropical birds).





Last edited by Skipper; 04/09/2006 at 08:44 AM.
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Old 12/31/2005, 12:07 PM   #5
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And sea otters. This particular otter was the first otter ever to be both born and reared in captivity. He came from Oregon, they told me.



As you continue through the gallery, you'll come upon this very unusual tank. It was basically two tanks, with a 4" tube between them. In this shot, they were training the octopus to travel through the tube by coaxing him with food on a hose.



Around the corner from the Giant Pacific Octopus, the floor started looking a little... cracked. It was in preparation for the next animals, who live in the polar regions. The floor was intended to look like ice chunks in the ocean. I thought it was pretty ingenious.



This brought you to the 5 Beluga Whales. And their massive tank. This tank was the second largest in the aquarium, as I recall. I never got an actual size. It did, however, house 5 Beluga Whales, so what would you expect?









Last edited by Skipper; 04/09/2006 at 08:55 AM.
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Old 12/31/2005, 12:11 PM   #6
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River Scout

OK, so we're not all into freshwater fish, I recognize that. I've never had a fresh water tank in my life. However, it was certainly interesting and informative for me to see the River Scout freshwater gallery. This was certainly the most themed of the galleries. The theme was an "Under the River" kind of thing. There were tanks over head, and all the lighting was a dirty yellow. It really set the mood pretty well.

The entrance is highlighted by a rapids style waterfall.



As you walk past the cichlid tank, there is a Payara tank on the left. Being a narrow passageway between these two tanks into the gallery, I was never able to manage a clean shot of the Payara tank. However, notice the false tree trunk and river bank motif. This began the under river theme.



Here's a wide shot of the center of the River Scout gallery. Notice the overhead tanks and tree limbs, and atmosphere.



In the background of this shot is the Arawana tank. There were several 2-4 foot Arawana in there. They are being trained to use their natural activity in captivity. Arawana jump out of the water to grab food (insects, etc) from low hanging tree limbs. The top of the exhibit is filled with tree limbs, of course.



Some fish basking in the "sun."



There was a discus tank, as well. Both side walls were algae covered tree trunks.



And the finale to River Scout was the Asian river otter exhibit. I appreciated the authentic clothes lines overhead.





Last edited by Skipper; 04/08/2006 at 04:41 PM.
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Old 12/31/2005, 12:12 PM   #7
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Cool pictures but no reef display???


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Old 12/31/2005, 12:13 PM   #8
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Georgia Explorer

This one will be short. I didn't take many photos here. I started feeling a bit ill about this time (See what happens when you forget to eat?). The concept behind this exhibit was a showcae of marine life off the Georgia Coast. It was all anchored around a large fishing boat (jungle gym) in the center. There was a tank with a sea turtle here, as well as some other items that slip my memory at this time. I don't mean to belittle this gallery, I just had other issues on my mind about this time.

Out front was a pretty large ray touch tank. When I took this photo, they were on a "15 minute no touch break."



Inside was another touch tank, horseshoe crabs. Surprisingly, no one was touching these, either. However, there were a lot of parents urging their scared kids to try it. The parents weren't touching, either. Or the kid would actually touch the crab, and the parent would ask what it felt like.





Last edited by Skipper; 04/08/2006 at 04:42 PM.
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Old 12/31/2005, 12:13 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dubbin1
Cool pictures but no reef display???
Yes, that's the Tropical Diver. I'm working on that one now.


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Old 12/31/2005, 12:19 PM   #10
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great pics, must be unbelievable in person - thanks


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Old 12/31/2005, 12:29 PM   #11
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awesome pics....can't wait for the "Tropical Diver" pics!


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Old 12/31/2005, 12:30 PM   #12
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very good pictures


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Old 12/31/2005, 12:44 PM   #13
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Sweet Pics Man. My favorite fish to see there was that Bowmouth Guitarfish...really something else to see. But overall, the whole thing just left me feeling like I had just visited Petsmart or something. Ive got pics of the tropical diver in my sig as well.

When I went there (Christmas Eve), they had bonnethead sharks for petting in with the rays!!! That got my attention!!!


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Old 12/31/2005, 12:49 PM   #14
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Cool! Awesome place. Seems like they did a wonderful job on the layout. Thanks for sharing!


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Old 12/31/2005, 01:24 PM   #15
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those whale sharks are pretty cool. man some day ill find the time and the money to go there to see all there displays. makes you wonder whats next in store for an even bigger aquarium. cant wait for more pics


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Old 12/31/2005, 01:52 PM   #16
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Finally, the Tropical Diver gallery. As you entered, there was a nicely sized (1000g, or so) fake coral tank, filled with garden eels...



...basslets, anthias, and other assorted fish, including a dense school of something I can't remember (How's that for technical?).



As I look through my pictures, I'm sure there were other tanks in this area, but probably seemed relatively normal to me, being involved in this hobby and seeing this stuff every day. I recall a cuttlefish tank, but it was entirely too dark to shoot. Some people even thought it was empty. There was a seahorse display in here, as well. I definitely recall an oscellaris/anemone tank. This tank housed jawfish and royal grammas. It had a remote control camera in it, and kids took turns making everyone sea sick with the joystick.



At any rate... as we moved along, we encountered jellies. The bright blue light to the right was the 8' tall stinging nettle tank, but none of my shots of that tank really came out very well.



The centerpiece of this gallery was the coral reef, of course.



As you can see, the 4-6" acrylic wrapped overhead. This photograph represents just over half of the tank width.



As young as this tank is (less than 6 months), they decided to fill the tank will fake corals, as well as actual corals, and remove the fake ones as the real ones grew to size and took up the space. Here are some visitors shooting one of the larger areas of real coral. There were clams, as well.



A large tomato clown was slightly camera shy, and about 6-8' from the surface of the water.



Some tangs found some food at the bottom of the tank.



And more.





Last edited by Skipper; 04/08/2006 at 04:47 PM.
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Old 12/31/2005, 02:01 PM   #17
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wow thanks for sharing I had never seen any pictures of this place.

Bet it was loads of fun


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Old 12/31/2005, 02:08 PM   #18
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Oh, and a special thanks to Weatherson for whipping up this animation for me. The coral tank surged every minute or so, with this wave washing overhead into the corals. It was enough of a wave to create a small rip curl.





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Old 12/31/2005, 02:09 PM   #19
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cool thanks Weatherson


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Old 12/31/2005, 02:20 PM   #20
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great pictures. now i need an excuse to go to atlanta


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Old 12/31/2005, 02:20 PM   #21
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Fantastic! More More More!


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Old 12/31/2005, 02:27 PM   #22
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Old 12/31/2005, 02:32 PM   #23
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Yes, this is crazy and I think I know where I'm planning one of my trips this summer.
Like Gary said,,
More, More, More Please.


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Old 12/31/2005, 02:35 PM   #24
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I hope to work there some day...I'll letcha know how it works out.


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Old 12/31/2005, 02:42 PM   #25
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I was luckly enough to get on the VIP list before it opened (the company I work for does business with public aquariums), so I was able to walk around with very few people around me. It was a great experience. The reef tank is by far the nicest I've seen in a public aquarium. I highly recommend a visit.

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