Sep 2, 2010
10:05 AMDiscover Connecticut
As the summer draws to its lamented end, my wife and I have been taking our two sons on a number of day trips around the state, hoping to eke out a few more family memories before they slip fully into those tween/teenager years when they won't want to know us. Last week, we stopped at the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, an attraction that we hadn't visited since both boys were little. I was curious how it would play with them, especially when I first suggested it, neither seemed particularly enthused about seeing "a bunch of fish."
Fortunately, the Maritime Aquarium is a bit more than "a bunch of fish."
Yes, the seals, river otters and sharks were all still there, as were the ray touch tank, sea turtle exhibit and jellyfish encounter (which really needs a Pink Floyd soundtrack to it). But we were pleasantly surprised at how many more fish there were on hand now than on our last visit.
The space formerly dedicated to ship-building and woodworking has become more ... dynamic (to be polite), with a compelling marine lab, where you can now see tanks of baby seahorses and jellyfish (both very high on the "Awww cute!" scale). Also (new to us) was the frogs area, which features frogs from the region and around the world—keep those poison tree frogs secured, thanks!—and the Go Fish! exhibit, which has a 30,000-gallon tank stocked with fish from Long Island Sound, including cod, striped bass and salmon; the tank has an open top which lets you get a bit closer to the fish as many come up to the surface. What was also nice was that the different kinds of fish in the tank were clearly labeled with big, clear pictures, making identification easy.
The Maritime also is currently hosting two other more exotic temporary exhibits—one featuring African penguins (there until December), and the other starring much more entertaining meerkats. ("Why does an aquarium have meerkats, Dad?" "Uh, because they can?") Also quietly tucked in with the meerkats were a few tanks filled with colorful fish from Africa, which was interesting.
Although we didn't partake (this time), the aquarium also still has its IMAX theater (currently showing Hubble and The Living Sea, in addition to Toy Story 3), and there's also a 3-D Happy Feet simulator ride-film.
Of course, as a parent, one of the best parts of our experience was when we were leaving and I asked if they enjoyed it. "Yes Dad, it was pretty cool," my son said. "You were right. Again."Maritime Time