Boston's New England Aquarium opened in 1969, and has since become one of the world's leader in ocean exploration and marine conservation. Every year more than 1.3 million visitors come to the Aquarium, and it's really no surprise, it's such a special place to visit.
I've been going there since I was a little girl. First on field trips, then with my family, and now I bring my little boy to see the penguins and walk up around the epic fish tank.
When the New England Aquarium opened in 1969 it had undergone extensive remodeling. Open since 1860, the NEAQ was previously known as the Boston Aquarial Gardens. During these early years Boston's first aquarium underwent a variety of changes, in management and location. In 1912 the City of Boston began construction on a new aquarium. However, it would be another 50 years before Boston finally received a working aquarium.
In 1969 the aquarium opened to the public, and the Giant Ocean Tank opened a year later. At the time, it was the world's largest circular ocean tank. During the late 1970s through the mid-1990s there was a massive 116,000 gallon pool and 1,000 seat observer pavilian moored next to the aquarium. It was called "Discovery" and it was commissioned until the mid-2000s, when it was retired, due to age and the exorbitant maintenance costs.
In 1984, the Giant Ocean Tank received a replica Caribbean coral reef, and a new glass and steel West Wing on the pulbic plaza that included a gift shop, lobby and a harbor seal exhibit. A rehabilitation center was also built in the late 90s for harbor porpoises. The tank is 29,000 gallons and can take care of three porpoises at a time.
The aquarium also houses a 428-seat IMAX theater, which has a screen that's 6 stoies high. My favorite exhibit however is the jellyfish exhibit. In 2003 the aquarium officially opened a $1.9 million, 12-tank jellyfish exhibit. It's still awe-inspiring.
Arguably, the most popular feature of the New England Aquarium is the Giant Ocean Tank. This is also literally the central point of the aquarium, a 200,000 gllon cylindrical tank that's simulating a Caribbean coral reef. The tank is concrete and surrounded by a walkway with 52 windows, allowing visitors the ability to peep at the sea life from virtually every angle.
At the bottom of the tank is the penguin exhibit. My mom's favorite. It's a square 150,000 gallon exhibit of African penguins, Northern and Southern rockhopper penguins and little baby penguins. There are also various galleries throughout the aquarium featuring disparate oceanic eco-systems.
When you first walk into the aquarium from the outside you'll walk past the harbor seal exhibit, which is free and open to the public. There are five Northern fur seals and two California sea lions on display. Trust me when I say, visiting the New England Aquarium is one of the best ways to spend the day in Boston.