Summer is here and you know what that means! Many of us are looking for ways to beat the heat for the next few months. A lot of folks head to the aquarium for some fish, penguins, shade and fun. But did you know you can actually go into the exhibits? Most people don't but you can purchase an extra encounter to go along with your visit that is both unique and educational.
Walking around the Aquarium of the Americas, you can see why folks flock here during the summer: It’s dark, cool and there’s lots of things to see and learn. Behind the scenes, there's even more fun and education waiting. One of those activities is to go snorkeling or scuba diving in the Great Maya Reef exhibit.
James Arnold, Senior Curator of Animal Husbandry, explains exactly what you'll encounter underwater, "When you go into the exhibit, you're gonna be surrounded by several different species of tropical reef fish. They're colorful reef fish, they're going to swarm around you because they're used to people in there."
And he’s right. From stingrays swarming you, to watching schools of fish swim beneath your fins, it’s a different world under the surface of the water. There are about 30 different species of fish you'll encounter in the exhibit and 300 to 400 individual fish overall. These range from the cow nose rays to queen angel fish. Everything you'll see is indigenous to the Caribbean Sea off the Central American Coast.
For most people, swimming along the surface of the water and looking down is enough, but if you’re adventurous, take a deep breath and dive to the bottom. It’s beautiful to see the reactions of the animals when you’re up this close and personal and it’s an experience in New Orleans you can only find at the Aquarium of the Americas.
If you're interested in diving in the Great Maya reef, or one of the other Wild Encounters offered by the institute, click here for more information.