The New England Aquarium, located on the Central Wharf in Boston, Massachusetts was opened to the public on June 20, 1969. Welcoming more than 1.3 million visitors annually, the New England Aquarium focuses much of its efforts on oceanic conservation and environmental awareness. It is home to over 20,000 animals divided among 600 species. Being one of the bigger tourist draws in the area, the New England Aquarium hosts a number of educational and entertaining programs to teach visitors about aquatic animal life and environmental issues.
The aquarium itself maintains an active involvement in conservation, hosting a number of programs that help the environment recover from issues such as global warming and pollution. The New England Aquarium supports programs that protect the rare and endangered North Atlantic right whale, prevents the destruction of the Amazonian rainforests, and studies the effects of global warming on the Earth's oceans and sea life.
The New England Aquarium boasts a 200,000 gallon tank that emulates a Caribbean coral reef, serving as a home to countless fish and other sea life, such as sharks and sea turtles. The Giant Ocean Tank is cylindrical in shape, and is surrounded by 52 windows that allow visitors to see its inhabitants from an array of angles. Also present is a 150,000 gallon penguin exhibit, where several species of penguins swim and play to the amusement of patrons to the aquarium. There are also smaller tanks, such as "Thinking'' Gallery, a Freshwater tank, and the "Edge of the Sea'' tide pool, which lets visitors touch and interact with various sea life, ranging from sea urchins to horseshoe crabs.
The Northern Waters of the World Gallery explores Northeastern oceanic habitats and compares them with Pacific Northwestern habitats. A Tropical Gallery is also available, featuring a plethora of colorful fish and ocean life. Free for all visitors is the Harbor Seal exhibit. Sea mammal training sessions are also available to the public eye, and aquarium attendees can view animal feedings and tank dives throughout the week.
The New England Aquarium is also home to its own IMAX Theater, offering patrons a cinematic learning experience like no other. The Simons IMAX Theater has been host to a number of special screenings of aquarium-exclusive educational programs. In 2007, the aquarium launched a new program, named "Killer Instincts'', designed to educate patrons about the sea animals people tend to fear, such as electric eels, sharks, barracudas, and giant octopuses. The annual David B. Stone award is issued by the aquarium to individuals, groups, or organizations that show their commitment to aiding in oceanic conservation and protection. Created in 1970, this award honors aquarium founder David B. Stone. Another event held by the aquarium is the Blue Planet Ball. The Blue Planet Ball is a yearly fundraiser where people gather for a fun night and to express their support for the aquarium.
The New England Aquarium offers special ticket packages for students and tour groups at discounted prices. Tickets can be purchased online or at the aquarium ticket booth, and visitors can call 617-973-5200 for more information about tickets and hours of operation.