Imagine students gasping in awe as they are surrounded by sharks in a 40-foot suspended Shark Tunnel. Picture the amazement on students’ faces as they stand within inches of massive hippos gracefully gliding underwater. Or the smiles and giggles from students as they reach their hands into cool waters to touch colorful sea creatures, sharks, and even hand-feed stingrays. All of this and more is possible during a field trip to Adventure Aquarium on the Camden, NJ Waterfront, where there’s always more new things to see and do!
Adventure Aquarium first opened its doors in May 2005, and today is one of the largest aquariums in the country, known as a leader in the areas of conservation, animal care and exhibition, exhibit design, community commitment and most importantly, in the delivery of amazing guest experiences. Broken down into four distinct “Zones,” (A, B, C and D), Adventure Aquarium offers 200,000 square feet of sprawling, climate-controlled space, over 2 million gallons of water, and a diverse collection of 8,500 animals, ranging from hippos to horseshoe crabs, penguins to pipefish, starfish to storks, sharks to sea turtles and so much more. Adventure Aquarium’s mission is simple: to create world-class animal encounters that allow guests to move “beyond the glass” to become a part of the experience.
In Zone A, hear tribal music and exotic animal sounds at Irazu Falls, as a two-story high waterfall pours into a massive freshwater pool filled with Amazon River fish. Next, enter Caribbean Currents to see a collection of fifteen different brightly colored exhibits filled with hundreds of tropical fish, seahorses, pipefish, barracuda, and more. Zone A is also home to Ocean Realm, the largest of all of the Aquarium’s exhibits, where students will come face-to-face with 760,000-gallons of seawater and magical array of sea creatures and rarely exhibited shark species, including Silky and Great Hammerhead Sharks. Speaking of sharks, don’t miss the Touch-a-Shark exhibit – presented by Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey – for opportunities to reach in and touch live sharks!
In Zone B, Adventure Aquarium features nearly 20 African penguins in the outdoor Penguin Island exhibit. These tuxedoed creatures have plenty of room to swim, frolic and dive; and a 20-foot underwater viewing window provides an up-close view of penguins at play. Groups can also attend FREE live shows daily to learn about penguin behavior and to ask the biologists questions. Zone B is also home to Stingray Beach Club, where students can dip their hands into the warm waters of a massive stingray pool to touch and hand-feed stingrays.
In Zone C, you’ll encounter the Aquarium’s all new KidZone, a 6,000 square foot exhibit that allows Adventure Aquarium’s youngest guests to connect with nature by doing what they do best – play! The entire exhibit is designed to appeal to a child’s natural curiosity to explore, including interactive games, activities and touch experiences, as well as a beautiful and bizarre collection of new and returning animals. Don’t miss the uniquely designed “pop-up” exhibits that allow students to crawl up underneath for an insider’s view of the fish! Zone C is also home to Creature Feature, a re-creation of an inter-tidal marine ecosystem, where students can touch invertebrates from the rocky shores of the Pacific Northwest, including sea stars, anemones, sea cucumbers, shrimp, crabs, snails and more.
The moment students enter Zone D, they’ll encounter the West African River Exhibit, featuring two massive Nile hippos, African-crested Porcupines, more than 1,000 colorful fish, as well as a free-flight aviary home to an impressive collection of West African bird species. Designed to mimic an African river setting, this exhibit offers land views at eye level or from an observation deck above. The centerpiece is a stunning underwater view into a 65,000-gallon exhibit, where students can stand within inches of the three thousand pound hippos as they glide through the water with the grace of ballerinas. In fact, Adventure Aquarium is the only aquarium in the world to house a land and water hippo exhibit. Zone D is also home to the Jules Verne Gallery, where students can encounter some of the strangest and most fascinating creatures imaginable, such as jellyfish, Wolf Eels, and a Giant Pacific Octopus.
And, don’t miss the centerpiece of Zone D, Shark Realm, a stunning 550,000-gallon exhibit offering multiple views of Adventure Aquarium’s impressively large collection of sharks, including Sand Tigers, Sandbars, Green Sawfish and more. Don’t miss the 40-foot suspended Shark Tunnel, which offers a 360 degree view of the massive exhibit.
Not only is a field trip to Adventure Aquarium breathtaking, it’s also cross-curricular – exploring Science, Social Studies, English and Mathematics. Exhibits and programs address New Jersey Core Curriculum Standards, Pennsylvania Academic Standard, Delaware Content Standards and National Science Benchmarks. In fact, there are learning opportunities around every corner, each designed to inspire students to better understand and gain appreciation for marine life, food chains and ecosystems. Hands-on touch exhibits, multi-sensory displays and impromptu up-close animal experiences also occur daily.
The New Jersey Academy for Aquatic Sciences (NJAAS), the education partner of Adventure Aquarium, offers a variety of educational programs to enhance the group experience. These Learning Adventures explore curriculum topics such as habitats, adaptations and conservation in a classroom setting. The 30-minute sessions keep students engaged and learning throughout their trip, and pre- and post-learning guides are available for download on the Aquarium’s Educator Inlet web section. The Jurassic Shark Program, presented theater-style, is ideal for large groups. The 30-minute program explores the prehistoric seas and the predators that swam in these waters, including ancient sharks, turtles and even dinosaurs! Program can be adapted for groups up to 7th grade.
Behind-the-Scenes tours are also available to enhance a field trip with a sneak peek at special, off-exhibit areas within Adventure Aquarium, such as the 30-minute “Top of the Ocean Realm Tour,” which provides a spectacular view of life under the waves by offering an above-water look at the animals in the Aquarium’s largest underwater exhibit – the perfect addition to any middle school field trip!
As a Coastal America Learning Center, Adventure Aquarium and its partners at NJAAS put great focus on educating students about the nature and value of coastal resources. Thanks to this partnership, Adventure Aquarium now features an Ocean Today kiosk, where students can interact with a touch screen and 50” video monitor to access a wide range of content from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), including documentary and kid-friendly videos educating students on global and national conservation efforts. In addition, students can find out about locally-based efforts by the Aquarium and NJAAS to fight marine pollution, over-fishing and habitat destruction in nearby waterways.
Groups can also enrich their Adventure Aquarium experience with a brand new 3D film, The Last Reef: Cities Beneath the Sea, an amazing and uplifting 40-minute journey exploring the beauty and mysteries of the world’s reef ecosystems. Fly across iridescent tropical reefs, brush through a cloud of a million jellyfish and visit a world where the tiniest creatures support the greatest predators. Students will learn that every reef is a living city beneath the sea with a parallel existence to that of humans and are as vital to life on earth as the rain forests. The Last reef inspires audiences with a vision of the reef incredible – yet fragile – power to rebuild.
Adventure Aquarium groups are also able to take advantage of visits to nearby attractions on the Camden Waterfront. In fact, groups that book with Adventure Aquarium automatically receive discounted admission on various combination packages, including the Fish & Duck package, which includes a quack-tastic journey through the most historic square mile in America with Ride the Ducks Philadelphia. Combine adventuresome creatures with creative cuisine with a lunch at the Moshulu Restaurant on Penn’s Landing, or enhance your waterfront experience at the Battleship New Jersey with the Fish & Ship package, and allow students to experience life aboard the floating city on the nation’s largest and most decorated battleship.
To make the most of a student trip to Adventure Aquarium, be sure to visit the Aquarium’s newly enhanced online resource, Educator Inlet. Created specifically for teachers, Educator Inlet allows teachers to access everything from checklists to maps to classroom programs, trip enhancements and more. Check it out today at www.AdventureAquarium.com.
Whether you’re with a club or business, organizing a tour or school group, it’s both easy and affordable to plan a group trip to Adventure Aquarium. Choose from a variety of packages that fit the needs of any size group. Whether planning a trip for 2 or 200, Adventure Aquarium is the destination you’ll want to revisit year after year. So, what are you waiting for? Let the ADVENTURE begin!