Over 30 interactive exhibits occupy this waterfront aquarium. Located in Duluth, Minnesota, the Great Lakes Aquarium is one of the best places for people to explore the connection between Lake Superior, other waters, and marine ecosystems.
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Although the Great Lakes Aquarium is a relatively new attraction in Duluth, Minnesota, it is one of the most engaging and popular attractions within the city. In early 2000, Julia and Caroline Marshall donated land to create an aquarium within Duluth. With the combination of the Marshall’s land donation, as well as state and local funds, the Great Lakes Aquarium opened in the middle of summer 2000.
Although the Great Lakes Aquarium opened in 2000, a good chunk of anticipated revenue was lost within the first year because of delays in construction. In order to ensure the Great Lakes Aquarium would succeed for many years to come, Mayor Gary Doty created a specialized task force to oversee the Aquarium in 2002. That same year, the City of Duluth eliminated the task force, took control of the Great Lakes Aquarium, and even closed it for a short period of time.
One year later, Ripley’s Entertainment took control of the Great Lakes Aquarium and brought success to the Aquarium. Under the direction of Ripley’s Entertainment, the Great Lakes Aquarium significantly cut costs through practices, such as keeping only 1/3 of the Aquarium’s original staff.
Although Ripley’s Entertainment initially brought success to the Great Lakes Aquarium, the Aquarium experienced an attendance conflict in 2007. This led to Ripley’s Entertainment resigning its direction of the Great Lakes Aquarium. Instead of the City of Duluth taking over again, a board of directors was established and hired Jack LaVoy as the Aquarium’s executive director. Since then, LaVoy and the board of directors have brought continuous improvement and success to the Great Lakes Aquarium.
With approximately 30 interactive attractions, the Great Lakes Aquarium truly has something for everyone.
Aquatic Invaders gives visitors an exclusive look into invasive marine species, such as lamprey and zebra mussels. Visitors will have the opportunity to learn about the effect invasive species have on native ecosystems, and what we can do to limit the negative impact they have.
Shipwrecks Alive replicates a shipwreck in three different areas in the world: the Mediterranean Sea, Lake Superior, and South Pacific. In each area, a different shipwreck is shown with a new ecosystem.
Isle Royale is a two story tank with over 85,000 gallons of water. Divided among three sections, Isle Royale explores various fish that are found within the Great Lakes. A combination of warm water and cold water fish are displayed here. Hence, the reason for the different sections in the tank.
Amazing Amazon displays the variety of fish that are native to the Amazon River, which is in South America. In addition to exploring the magnificent sea creatures of the Amazon River, visitors will have the opportunity to learn an overall overview of the Amazon River.
Otter Cove is a replication of an otter’s habitat within the wild. Currently, two North American river otters occupy this exhibit. These otters are Agate and Ore. Visitors can typically see Agate and Ore playing, hunting, jumping off rocks, or casually swimming.
Wow of Water is one of the most popular attractions at the Great Lakes Aquarium. This attraction has around 10 different interactive areas, where visitors can learn about the mechanics and foundations of water.
Origins displays a variety of exhibits and information that is relevant to the history of the Great Lakes, specifically Lake Superior. Visitors can explore Lake Superior’s prehistoric marine life, as well as the general natural and cultural history of the area.
The Great Lakes Aquarium has a variety of educational opportunities, such as specialized tours, camps, and even an overnight stay program. The most popular educational opportunities at the Great Lakes Aquarium is the specialized tour program. Schools have the opportunity of visiting the Great Lakes Aquarium and participating in one of the following tours:
· Explorer, a self-guided exhibit tour that engages students with a scavenger hunt.
· Dive in Deeper, a self-guided tour along with a special one hour class taught by an Aquarium official.
· Fish and Ships, a self-guided tour along with a special one hour and fifteen minute harbor cruise on the Vista Fleet.
The other popular educational program at the Great Lakes Aquarium is the overnight stay program. Through this opportunity, participants are able to spend an entire night at the Aquarium. The overnight stay includes an interactive scavenger hunt, interactive critter encounters, a continental breakfast, and a behind the scenes tour.
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353 Harbor Dr, Duluth, MN 55802, Phone: 218-740-3474