Ever wanted to touch a jellyfish or see a stingray up close? Guests of the National Aquarium will have those opportunities and more in the organization’s newest exhibit, Living Seashore, set to open this May. In advance of the opening, a select number of guests will have the chance to see the exhibit come to life before it opens to the public through two of the Aquarium’s Immersion Tours.
Beginning Feb. 28, participants of the National Aquarium’s daily Behind-the-Scenes Tour and weekend Insider’s Tour will become the first guests to step inside the Living Seashore exhibit before the construction walls come down and the exhibit opens.
“Seeing an exhibit as it is coming together is a perspective that very few get to experience. We’re thrilled that guests will now be able to see just how much is happening behind the scenes,” said Steve Skobel, Immersion Program Manager for the National Aquarium.
The daily Behind-the-Scenes Tour is an all-access experience during which guests learn how the Aquarium team cares for almost 20,000 animals and their habitats. From life-support systems and water quality to amazing animal care and research, guests explore the building in a whole new way and understand what it truly takes to run an aquarium. And now, with the addition of Living Seashore, guests can discover what it takes to design and build a realistic habitat for the Aquarium’s newest residents and an immersive, interactive experience for future guests. The 45-minute tour is available to guests ages eight and up and is available daily for $15 per person. Aquarium admission must be purchased separately to experience this tour.
The Insider’s Tour is available to guests ages eight and up on Saturday and Sunday mornings. The tour, priced at $50 for members and $60 for nonmembers, is approximately two and a half hours long. Small groups will explore the exhibits with an Aquarium expert who will share fascinating stories about the Aquarium’s animals and the habitats they call home, lead guests to exclusive staff-only areas, take guests up-close with one of the animal residents and much more. The Insider’s Tour ticket includes a full day of exploration at the Aquarium.
Opening this May, Living Seashore is an interactive exhibit featuring two touchpools and a variety of hands-on exploratory experiences. Living Seashore will take guests beyond the boardwalk to the crashing waves, sandy beaches and shifting dunes of the ever-changing Mid-Atlantic seashore, where they will encounter a variety of marine life.
Once the exhibit is open, visitors will join National Aquarium interpreters to gently touch the prickly pointed spines of a purple sea urchin; graze their hand over the sleek, muscular wing of an Atlantic stingray; and feel the mysterious, firm bell of a pulsing moon jelly. As they explore the sandy shore, guests will have the opportunity to discover and learn about some of the beach’s hidden treasures, such as horseshoe crabs, sand dollars and egg cases on a tactile discovery wall that brings a "slice of the beach" to eye level. Guests will also have the opportunity to look for clues on a digital multi-touch table, learning about objects that wash up on the beach. The digital “Shore Hero Conservation Station” allows guests to further connect to the wonders of the water’s edge by pledging to protect our local aquatic treasures and similar habitats.
Explore the website for more information on Living Seashore and on Immersion Tours.
Note: Touching of the animals in Living Seashore during the Immersion Tours prior to the exhibit opening is at the discretion of the curator of the exhibit.