To me, going to the aquarium was an escape to another world entirely. I personally love the ocean and have gotten certified to be a scuba diver. The aquarium is what I see as a portal to our oceans. When you enter you are greeted with two large tanks substituting for the walls. The tanks give off an illusion of depth because you cant see the other end of the tank when looking in. it looks like you are submerged under the seeming infinite stretch of the ocean. The main atrium of the aquarium feels more like a gigantic underwater cave leading to various labyrinths of exhibits. The lighting of the atrium gives the effect you are under water with the lights mocking the refraction of the sun against the water.
When we got to the exhibits, no one exhibit was the same. In the Freshwater Cove within the first few steps you will be greeted with flurries of color darting around in a tank as 500 different species of fish roam around their homes. There will be tanks on all sides of you, even above you to heighten the immersion of being submerged into seemingly another world. There are also small crevices that cut into the tank that you can crawl into to get a new angle and immersion that normally only a diver would experience. Those immersive experiences were trounced when we entered the ocean voyager exhibit. The Ocean voyager tank is The largest tank in the world, capable of comfortably housing whale sharks, the largest fish
in the world. There is a tunnel system that will give you a panoramic view of the ocean tank. It puts you right in the center of the reef and you can have Manta rays doing acrobatics above you, Whale sharks looming overhead, or you will even find divers roaming the tank. When you enter the tank you can almost forget that you are in an aquarium from the sheer size and depth of the tank. From the surface to when you are it is around 30 feet of water. in water you can quickly lose your sense of depth when staring at open water. It makes the experience feel that much more realistic. After the tunnel you arrive into the “theater room” with an entire wall of acrylic glass to view inside the tank. The “window” into the tank easily pushes well over 40 feet.
All of these exhibits create a sense of realism you can’t typically get outside of the ocean. I will go hear a lot into one of the bigger viewing stands and just sit and watch the marine life go by as I do some school work. I will also use it for musical purposes as well. Its a calming, almost therapeutic sensation to be around the ocean so close to home. I also get to connect with other divers since the aquarium is a PADI scuba diving hub. I get to exchange projects and contribute to my membership to project AWARE which is a conservation project. I constantly visit the aquarium for a myriad of reasons, and my next visit will be approaching in the near future.