The sea pervades nearly every aspect of Boston life, so it’s only appropriate that the New England Aquarium is one of the city’s most popular attractions. What sets this aquarium apart from many similar institutions is its commitment not only to presenting an exciting environment to learn about marine life, but also to conserving the natural habitats of its thousands of gilled, feathered, and whiskered inhabitants.
Central Wharf • 617 973 5200 • “T” station: Aquarium (blue line) • www.neaq.org for general info, including current IMAX® features • Open 9am–5pm Mon–Fri, 9am–6pm Sat & Sun (extended hours Jul–Aug) • Adm adults $27.95; seniors $25.95; children (aged 3–11) $18.95; under 3s free
Whale Watch: 617 973 5206 for reservations and rate information
IMAX: call 866 815 IMAX (4629) for show times; Adm: adults $9.95; seniors and children (aged 3–11) $7.95
Three species of penguins – southern Rockhoppers, Little Blue, and African – coexist here, frolicking on the central island and taking dips in the pool.
This exhibit reveals a closeup look at species found inhabiting the coral reefs of the Caribbean, including long-spined sea urchins and gently swaying garden eels that burrow together in colonies.
For those not content to merely gaze at fish behind glass, the Edge of the Sea tidepool tank puts marine life at visitors’ fingertips – literally. Inside a ground-level fiberglass tank, the New England seashore is recreated in all its diversity.
Harbor seals swim, feed, and play in specially designed tanks outside the aquarium. All have either been born in captivity or rescued and deemed unfit for release into the wild.
Observe Northern fur seals as they frolic in an open-air exhibit at the edge of the Boston Harbor. Meet the seals and sea lions face-to-face at the large observation deck.
A Pacific coral reef teems with brightly colored inhabitants, including unicorn tangs, bird wrasses, and blue-striped cleaner fish, in tanks, filled with painted artificial coral. Children will love spotting the blue palette surgeon-fish – the forgetful Dory in Finding Nemo.
Displaying a spectacular four-story Caribbean reef, the Giant Ocean Tank teems with sea turtles, sharks, moray eels, brightly colored tropical fish, and scores of other species in its 200,000-gallon (900,000-liter) space.
One of the largest of its kind in the country, this mangrove-themed tank has shallow edges and viewing windows, allowing visitors to roll up their sleeves to feel the velvety wings of stingrays and the abrasive skin of sharks.
The aquarium’s whale watch catamarans, running mid-March to mid-November, offer a unique glimpse into the life cycles of the world’s largest mammals. The swift boats voyage far outside Boston Harbor to the Stellwagen Bank, a prime feeding area for whales.
This six-tank exhibit shows New England's marine and seashore environments inhabited by giant sea stars, sharp-clawed crustaceans, and cold water fish such as cod, halibut, and dogfish.
The aquarium’s aim, first and foremost, is to instigate and support marine conservation. Its Conservation Action Fund has fought on behalf of endangered marine animals worldwide, helping to protect humpback whales in the South Pacific, sea turtles in New England, and dolphins in Peru.