If you have children, you owe it to them to help them explore the world and expand their minds. Doing so will give them the chance to try different things to give them a goal to achieve, to be an astronaut, an oceanographer, or a marine biologist.If the oceans of the world seem to be calling to your southern Ohio girl or boy then Newport Aquarium is the best place to let them be amazed.
The starting point brings you into the life that thrives in rivers, from various fish, turtles, followed by the tidal pool exhibit. This hands on exhibit allows you to touch Horseshoe Crabs, Starfish and various life that survive in the areas on the edges of the oceans. The kids clamour to get a spot to touch their first Horseshoe Crab, and as the space opens for them some of the bravery seems to waver a little. Curiousity usually prevails though and they turn to give the biggest smiles to their mildly nervous parents. Little do the parents know what awaits.
There is another local story behind the two famous Shark Rays, as they are part of the worlds first Shark Ray breeding program. When Sweet Pea or Scooter seem to fly over you, seperated by 2.5 inches of acrylic, they are truly something that needs to seen to believed. In the same exhibit is a loggerhead sea turtle named Denver, and a host of other sharks and stingrays. At times there are divers in the water with these creatures and this will remove all doubt about the proportions of these animals.
There are several opportunities for the experience to go beyond the normal path. You can take a forty-five minute tour behind the scenes to learn how new animals are brought into the exibits, see the vets lab, and see how they prepare the food for the animals.
Speaking of how they bring in the animals. Their latest member to the cast is an alligator by the name of Mike. Mike has the size that demands respect, weighing in at 800 lbs and being 14 feet long. You might notice that Mike would in no conceivable way fit thru the one door that is located in the viewing area. The question to ask is “How did Mike get in Gator Bayou?” You will be surprised at the answer. He walked in. Surrounded by an ontourage of 20 people prepared to wave a stick at him, that he would snap like a toothpick if not for tape around his mouth
One more thing, the shark petting area is for any parent one of the most counter-intuitive things you will every experienced. Most of the sharks were small enough to be not so intidating and these were readily there for the proper two fingered touch, as is the approved technique. There were a couple there that set the instincts in the opposite direction though so be warned. You may have to prove yourself as there are dozens of children willing to show you up if your knees should start to shake.
The Newport Aquarium is just across the Ohio river in the Newport on the Levee shopping complex.