The Georgia (Atlanta) Aquarium

This week we traveled to Atlanta for the HIMSS2010 conference. HIMSS is the largest healthcare technology tradeshow in the world, and Sentry has been exhibitor for the past two years. I usually go a day early to assist in any way I can, but The Wife and I were able to steal away for a few hours to visit the Georgia Aquarium, located just a block or two away from the Omni Hotel at the CNN Center, where we stayed.The Wife and I are big fans of the Chatanooga Aquarium (the worlds largest prior to the completion of the Atlanta aquarium), and still the world’s largest freshwater marine exhibit. Overall, we felt like the Tennessee Aquarium was probably superior in its aesthetics and the variety of marine life you could see, along with the design of the exhibits. The Georgia aquarium is much more kid friendly, with the exhibits all looping back to a main room in case you need food, restrooms, or a rest, but some of the exhibits don’t really give you a good view of the animals, or are small, or are positioned so that it’s hard to fight your way through a large crowd. The pod-style design of the Atlanta floorplan also means crowds aren’t linear like they are on the “River Walk” style of the Chatanooga exhibits, so you can feel very claustrophobic at times. Full disclosure: we went on a Sunday afternoon in Atlanta, and I think we visited on a Friday during the day in Chatanooga.But.The Atlanta Aquarium has a “Behind the Scene Tour” which lets you pay 40 bucks to get a tour behind all the exhibits and it was phenomenal.  The guided tour takes roughly an hour, and you’re in a small group that walks backstage and sees the medical facilities, kitchens for preparing fish food, the generators and pumps that help regulate water chemicals and cleanse the tanks, and topside of the world’s largest saltwater tank, home to several whales harks and a manta ray.  You also can see how a lot of the exhibits are put together and view the top of the coral reef display.  Pictures are allowed, and this opportunity really moves the Atlanta aquarium ahead of Chatanooga in my view.These are some iPhone pictures that I managed to take while on the tour – enjoy!

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