Thursday, April 12, 2012

Weird Fishes: Adventure Aquarium in Camden, NJ

Whenever we are visiting Nona and D-Rock for a while, we almost almost always make a trek up to Philly to visit the Please Touch Museum.  But this trip we decided to head up that way to visit another destination that's been on our list for a while -- Adventure Aquarium in Camden.  Hard to believe that something like this can be found in Camden -- as far as we can tell the only other "destination" there is the city's Trauma Center.  But, it was truly amazing.  It makes the pretty cool National Aquarium in Baltimore look like the fish section of Pet Smart.  And even though it was spring break and there were about a million kids running around, we rarely felt too crowded to check things out (it helped having an adult to child ratio of 3:2 in our group).

The aquarium has both indoor and outdoor (penguins and seals) exhibits and a special "Kid Zone," where you can pet a shark, pretend to swim through some kelp, and see fish up close and personal in a "crawl into" fish tank.  And mom loved how they somehow had a lot of natural light shining into many of the tanks.  We were most excited to see the heavily touted shark rays, which apparently are considered the "pandas of the aquatic world" for their rarity in aquarium settings.  They are super cool looking.  There is a GIGANTIC shark tank here and it includes a 40-foot underwater walk through shark tunnel a la JAWS.  I was not into it, but Cami and mom loved it.  

One of my favorite parts was checking out a demonstration of a school of fish.  I asked mom what kind of fish they were and, reading off of the placard, mom said they were Pilchards.  I told her that wasn't right -- that they were sardines.  She pointed to the placard again, but then actually read the description.  Pilchards are a type of sardine.  I told her "I watch Octonauts and those are sardines - they swim in schools."  I pay attention to "my shows."

We took a break for lunch before hitting the Kid Zone and ate in the aquarium's cafeteria.  Although we had to jockey a bit for a seat, things moved along and Nona and I locked down a spot while mommy, D-Rock and Cami got lunch.  The cafeteria offered a good selection of food, including some healthy things.  And Cam and I both loved the kids meals that came in a cool aquarium bucket.

It wasn't cheap, but it was definitely worth the price.  In fact, if we go again, we'll probably do a family membership.  If our group goes at least twice in a year, which I think we will, it will be worth it.  If you are in the Philadelphia area (it's probably unlikely you'll just be in the general Camden area - unless you're at the Trauma Center and then the aquarium is probably not high up on your list), take a quick jaunt across the Schuylkill and swim with the fishes.  

checking out the hippos - they were HUGE

can you spot the hippo in the back?

these guys swam right over us! 

also one of my favorites -- a sunken pirate ship with treasure

the shark ray! 

tired out

the "climb into" tank in the Kid's Zone

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