Should you go to the Baltimore Aquarium? (Of course the answer is yes!)
Baltimore Aquarium is a true downtown aquarium. Located in the Inner Harbor area of Baltimore, it cant get more downtown than having the sea right behind it!
It would surprise some people perhaps that tropical fish can be found in a city like Baltimore which is fairly northerly and in fact has its fair share of snow in the winter time. What would be even more surprising (which took me by surprise many years ago as well) is that the Baltimore Aquarium even has a rainforest section! Complete with tropical rainforest creatures such as birds and sloths. (And I mean like tropical rainforest out near the Equator tropical rainforest, and not the forests of the Pacific NorthWest of the US which is sometimes called this as well.)
The first thing that greets you is the Australian Exhibit and here is where immediately you get exposed to tropical fauna. Thats right, its fauna, there are tropical fish and other creatures as well. There are crocodiles and turtles for e.g.
The first tropical fish you are likely to see is the Barramundi. Thats the local name in Australia. Its also known as the Sea Bass. Its a beautiful fish, glistening silver and eyes that shine to torment you. That is if you are not just a fish enthusiast but also a fishing enthusiast. This guy can really take you for a ride going fishin!
You will also see this unbelievable spectre of a stingray. You see, the Barramundi is a fish that lives in brackish water i.e. water that is not quite fresh and not quite sea. So seeing a stingray in there with it can be something some people dont know about. In fact there are also freshwater stingrays which many people wont even know if not for the new found fame of shows such as River Monster and Monster Fish. (Note the Stingray below the Barra below).
The next tropical fish you will likely run into would be the Archer Fish. Its a pretty famous fish, the ones I am used to see at the pet stores are about the size of 2 fingers. The ones at the Baltimore Aquarium are as big as or bigger than your hand. Freaking huge! So whats the big deal with this fish? well as its namesake, it actually shoots at its prey outside of the water and devours it as it falls into the water. Pretty neat trick.
Then there is the menagerie of other creatures such as various turtles and even crocodiles.
Of course the Baltimore Aquarium has the standard 'big pool' setup where you will be able to see, overhead, a host of large fish swimming about freely, made up of things like sharks, tarpons, rays and even sea turtles. There are sections later on where you can see the fish from below and from the side as well.
As you walk through the exhibits, there are a splitting variety of tropical and temperate creatures. There are coral fish, the large denizens of the deep such as the Garoupa, sea urchins and the blue crab. Yes the blue crab is a tropical species but of course if you know Baltimore, you know that its also one of the sources of the most number of blue crabs there is known to man, fished out of the great Chesepeake Bay right next door. I guess in many ways then, the Baltimore Aquarium has a deeper relationship with tropical fish then meets the eye.
Of course it means that there are plenty of fish local to these parts as well, Rock fish, the North American Sturgeon and the red and black drum fishes, just to name a few.
There is also a splendid exhibit of Jelly Fish. That creature that stings people to death, the cure of which many of us will remember from the show 'Friends', (at least it cures SOME jellyfish stings, surely not all!) but still to others they are a nuisance to fisheries, to some turtles an important source of food, but for some people its even a pretty good food dish. (Let me tell you, its pretty damn yummy!)
To top it all off, and no pun intended because it is towards the top, you get an Amazon exhibit, perhaps one of the ultimate showcases of tropical fish. You got your Pacu, the large vegetarian relative of the Piranha, an assortment of Plecos and if I am not mistaken, even the infamous fish that eats wood (apparently the only one of its kind).
You will here definitely see the freshwater stingray. (I know you are like, there is no such thing, they are all seawater creatures... well believe it my man.. believe it my lady). And since they have crocodiles from Down Under, defintely they would have the Caiman from South america. You got both Crocodiles and Aligator species in the same place. Out in the wild, probably the only place for that is in Florida (and if there are still any, maybe some parts of South America). Just this, makes the Baltimore Aquarium pretty special.
If this dint already blow your mind, the Baltimore Aquarium has a whole separate building for Dolphin shows! Its something to be watched to be believed.
well there you go, an excellent setting, downtown, beautiful on a Summers day, a really great place to go with the family so what are you waiting for?
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