The 3 Best Aquariums in (and Near) Connecticut

Written by Jude Speegle
Published: April 30, 2022
Image Credit Olesia Bilkei/Shutterstock.com
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Red and orange leaves adorn the trees of Connecticut come autumn, a state known for its abundantly colorful foliage. The weather changes the leaves on the trees, but not the animals within the waterways and coastal waters. Aquariums in Connecticut showcase a unique and exciting array of marine life.

Aquariums are integral to communities because they show local and far-off aquatic life to those who live there. They inform people of what they cannot see, along with educating and helping with conservation efforts for the animals that need it.

There are three essential aquariums in Connecticut that everyone should find time to visit. These three aquariums are:

  • Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk
  • Mystic Aquarium
  • SeaQuest Trumbull

Let’s explore together the experiences at each aquarium!

Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk

The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk is known for its loggerhead sea turtle.

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Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk
Address 10 N Water St, Norwalk, CT 06854
Animal to SeeLoggerhead Sea Turtle
Known ForSeals

The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk assaults you immediately with scenes of animals like jellyfish, river otters, and loggerhead turtles. There is a brilliant amount of exhibits to peruse at your leisure.

This aquarium originally opened in 1988 after repurposing a closed iron works facility from decades earlier. The original wooden beams and floors of part of the factory are still within the Norwalk Maritime aquarium, which gives it a lovely rustic charm.

The available exhibits include:

  • Meerkats– Meet these African animals through bubbles that help you arrive right into their habitat. 
  • Pinniped Cove– What makes Pinniped Cove stand out is that it is two levels. You can view from above as the seals bask and rest, or go down a floor and see them playing beneath the water.
  • Just Add Water– This showcases two separate biomes where you can see animals that thrive in the rainforest and animals in the desert. Both are significantly affected by water or lack thereof.
  • Journey With Jellies– A large cylindrical tube holds various jellyfish to observe as they group together and apart, glowing in the dim light.
  • Sea and Discover Zone– There is a beach zone, science lab, and ocean zone. This is an interactive play area for children to learn about the differences between beaches and oceans, along with fun science facts.
  • River Otters– Watch the otters run around and play with their toys in a beautiful waterfall appearing to be located on the edge of a forest.
  • Shark and Ray Touch Pool– Stingrays and sharks thrive together in a low-lying touch tank where guests feel the smooth or rough skin of the animals in the water.
  • Ocean Beyond the Sound– Sand tigers and lemon sharks roam this part of the aquarium to give you a closer look at how sharks live.
  • Sea Turtles– Two green sea turtles and a loggerhead sea turtle have their habitat to live in. They are an important part of this aquarium, and visitors must make sure they stop by. 
  • Jiggle-a-Jelly– If you have ever wanted to see what a jellyfish feels like, then you’re in luck. You can touch the tops of moon jellies whose stings don’t hurt people in this exhibit.
  • Untouchable– Opposite the last exhibit, this is full of animals that you wouldn’t want to touch. This is due to them being painful to touch with their bodies or poison.
  • Corals– Coral reefs have slowly been destroyed and killed, which isn’t suitable for all the ocean life that depends on them. Coral is being taken care of here and will eventually be relocated to the sea to keep doing their jobs.
  • Horseshoe Crabs– Horseshoe crabs are kept in a thriving habitat for scientists to observe and research, which visitors can also watch.

The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk holds many adventures, so be sure to start early to visit every exhibit.

Mystic Aquarium

Are whales mammals - beluga whale in captivity
The Mystic Aquarium has the only Beluga whales in New England.

kuremo/Shutterstock.com

Mystic Aquarium
Address 55 Coogan Blvd, Mystic, CT 06355
Animal to SeeBeluga Whales
Known ForSteller Sea Lions

There are only two places in the United States that house Steller Sea Lions, and this aquarium is one of them. Steller sea lions are the biggest seals with ears and are found in the Pacific ocean.

The Mystic Aquarium of Connecticut is known for these seals, along with housing multiple Beluga whales, and is the only aquarium to have any in New England. There is a variety of species to witness and touch tanks.

Exhibits included are:

  • Beluga Whales– There are three Beluga whales housed here, and they are used for research concerning their species. They are viewable in their underwater habitat through the aquarium.
  • Seals and Sea Lions– The seals and sea lions are available to be seen around in their outside enclosure and inside as well.
  • African PenguinsAfrican penguins are found along the coasts of Africa, diving for their food, and are the only penguin native to the area.
  • Sharks Touch Habitat– Touch bamboo sharks, Atlantic stingrays, and more as they swim past you in low-lying aquariums while staff informs you all about them.
  • Animal Rescue Program– Since 1985, the animal rescue program has rescued and rehabilitated animals to release them once well.
  • Undersea Explorer VR– This ocean journey adventure is a virtual reality exploration to help inform visitors all about marine life.
  • Ocean Solutions– Become informed of all the different ways the ocean can be utilized to heal the earth from pollution and other problems.
  • Jurassic Giants– 4-D Interactive movie experience with animatronic dinosaurs and other animals present during times past.

There is so much to do and see at the Mystic Aquarium of Connecticut, where you can immerse yourself fully in learning, viewing, and touching animals. There is also ample education by a well-informed and caring staff.

SeaQuest Trumbull

Wallaby in Barcelona Zoo
Wallabies are available for selfies at SeaQuest Trumbull.

Millie Bond – Copyright A-Z Animals

SeaQuest Trumbull
Address 5065 Main St Ste 1106, Trumbull, CT 06611
Animal to SeeSloth
Known ForWallaby Interaction

Sequest is a marvel at its best, full of animals to see, interact with, and learn all about. They are known for having the most interactive aquarium and zoo in Connecticut, and it’s easy to see why. 

Every exhibit completely inspires you to learn and care for animals, giving you the opportunity to see what it’s like to be around them for small moments of time.

  • Snorkel with Stingrays– For experienced swimmers, the offer is there to snorkel along with stingrays and feel them up close and personal. 
  • Sloth Interaction– Flash the two-fingered sloth is available to meet and greet with visitors and help staff teach all about them and their Amazon habitats.
  • Asian Otter Interaction– With just a pane of glass separating you, enjoy feeding Asian otters and watching the wriggle with joy.
  • Crested Porcupine Interaction– Petting a porcupine has never been easier with staff assisting. As long as they aren’t threatened, porcupines are friendly and cuddly.
  • Fishy Kisses– Toothless feeder fishes eat the dead skin off your feet, but not your toes, so there’s no need to be afraid to put your feet into the tanks.
  • Wallaby Encounter– A wallaby is similar to a kangaroo but much smaller, and is fun to pet and talk to.

No matter what you choose to do first, there are plenty of unique ways to immerse yourself in the world of animals and learn up close and personal.

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About the Author

Jude is a writer both by trade and by heart. They have been writing since a very young age and have eight years of professional writing experience. Passionate about animals, Jude has three birds and three cats. The birds are named Scoresby, George Michael, and Ketchup Packet. The cats are named Theo, Oatmeal, and Polly.

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