Mystic Aquarium is one of New England’s premier marine centers. Our children enjoy visiting yearly and every time we go they are always looking for something new among the familiar exhibits they have grown to love. Recently two of my kids had the opportunity to really discover some marine animals in an up close and personal visit.
First the kids sat down with an bio-educator in a brightly windowed room to get to meet an endangered species; the African Penguin. The biologists pick animals that are comfortable being handled and interact with people quite well. We met ‘Red-Brown’ named as all penguins at the aquarium are named, after the color bead sequence on their wing bracelet. Red-Brown had plenty of room to waddle and jump around the enclosure as the kids along with 2 other children and 4 adults learned about penguin behavior, reproduction, history and conservation efforts. We were able to pet Red Brown as he made his way around the exhibit and stopped by to check us out. We also learned that some of the penguins are actually artists. The penguins have been trained to create paintings with their feet and the proceeds from this effort are used to help in the conservation of these magnificent birds. When we made our way over to the regular penguin exhibit it was refreshing to hear the kids talking about everything they learned during the Penguin Encounter and apply that knowledge to the rest of the flock of penguins in the exhibit. The cost of this encounter is $55 and kids must be at least 6.
Secondly we participated in Beluga Whales Up Close. Earlier in the day we had seen the Belugas in their regular enclosure and watched a particularly silly one named Juno play with a blue blanket in the water. We nicknamed him Super Juno of course as he was playing the role of superman with that cape!!!
The aquarium offers 2 encounters with Belugas. The Beluga Encounter is a 90 minute encounter in which participates gear up in waders and head into the water with the Belugas. The price for this encounter is $145. Encounter participants must be 5 feet tall and at least 16 years of age. My kids did not meet these restrictions so we were able to participate in the Whales Up Close Encounter. Here we met Naku a female Beluga weighing in at over 1000 pounds. We met Naku in a separate area of the Beluga exhibit where we could watch her be fed and we could touch her melon…the big rubbery top of her head. The trainer had Naku performing tricks and we could see the intelligence of these marine mammals first hand. Naku seemed to really enjoy interacting with her trainer as she showed us her shape spotting skills, her ability to make certain noises and the deftness with which she could swim. We got a bit wet…but kids never mind getting wet!!!The cost for this encounter is $55 and kids must be at least 6 years old.
I feel this is a perfect way to either get to know the aquarium and the animals a bit better if you have visited before or a great way to get introduced to all the amazing creatures exhibited at the aquarium. A personal look at the wildlife really brings a deeper appreciation to all of the animals at the aquarium.
Disclosure: My 2 children and I participated in these encounters as part of a media day at the aquarium. We were provided complimentary aquarium admission and admission into the encounter programs. I was not required to provide a specific review and all opinions are my own.