The National Aquarium in Baltimore has over 16,000 animals that represent more than 600 different animal species. It was named Coastal Living's #1 aquarium in the United States in 2006 and has been the largest tourist attraction in the state of Maryland since 2005. The aquarium was opened in 1981 at Baltimore's Inner Harbor and now attracts over 1.6 million visitors every year.
One of the most popular exhibits at the National Aquarium in Baltimore is 'Our Ocean Planet', the aquarium's dolphin show. The show lasts about 20 to 25 minutes and has a Splash Zone for visitors who don't mind getting a little wet. There are two to four dolphins that perform in every show, along with some of their 13 trainers. Currently, there are 10 dolphins that call this aquarium home. Guests who want an up-close and personal dolphin experience can also call ahead to book a spot on the Dolphin Encounter, which lasts about two and a half hours and gives visitors a chance to touch the dolphins and speak to the trainers and researchers who care for these animals at the aquarium.
Another popular exhibit at the National Aquarium in Baltimore is called Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes. Some of the animals included in this exhibit are the frilled lizard, the Australian freshwater crocodile, the pig-nosed turtle, the archerfish, the black-headed python, and the zebra finch. Nearby, guests can also visit the jellyfish exhibit, which includes Atlantic sea nettles, purple-striped jellies, moon jellies, egg yolk jellies, northern sea nettles, spotted lagoon jellies, and a number of other species of jellyfish.
The National Aquarium in Baltimore has a popular shark exhibit, which leads visitors up a ramp in a low-lit environment surrounded by tanks filled with many different kinds of shark species. The new 4-D Immersion Theatre is also extremely popular part of the aquarium. Special tickets are needed for this high-definition 3-D show that also brings smell, touch, and other special sensory effects into play for viewers.
The aquarium is committed to conservation and holds a number of special events to help visitors learn more about protecting the environment. Along with area conservation groups, the National Aquarium in Baltimore helps to organize restoration events on Barren Island, at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, on Poplar Island, and at a number of other locations located in the Chesapeake Bay area. Guests to the aquarium can learn more about these programs and find out how to participate by talking to the aquarium's conservation department.
Tickets to the National Aquarium in Baltimore are sold throughout the year, with longer hours during the summer and holiday weekends. Guests may continue to tour the aquarium up to 1 1/2 hours after the last ticket is sold. Admission prices range from about $15 to about $25, depending on age, and they also have special ticket packages that include admission to the dolphin show and/or to the show at the Immersion Theatre. To learn more, guests can call 410-576-3800 from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM daily.