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Swim with sharks at the Georgia Aquarium


Whale sharks at the Georgia Aquarium

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To further its mission to educate the public while researching and conserving the animals in its care, the Georgia Aquarium offers the Journey with Gentle Giants program as an exciting learning opportunity few get to experience. Whale sharks are the largest fish in the world found to grow up to forty feet in the wild and the Georgia Aquarium is home tothe only captive whale sharks outside of Asia. Chaperoned by aquarium safety divers, visitors explore the Ocean Voyager exhibit tank and float along as whale sharks cruise by overhead in a salt water tank that holds over six million gallons. These lucky divers get to see from a safe but close distance how the whale sharks interact with the different types of sharks, jacks, grouper, stingrays and other ocean animals also living in the tank.

On the opposite side of the two feet thick acrylic wall, dry aquarium visitors press their noses up to the “glass” so that they too can get a closer look as huge spotted whale sharks glide slowly over their heads. This is the type of learning experience that simply can’t be replicated on a computer or with a video game and may help to motivate the hard-to-please tween or older teen who refuses to do anything that involves thinking or learning, especially during the summer months,


Journey with Gentle Giants divers get a closer look
Journey with Gentle Giants has two program options. The “Dive” option features diving underwater in the exhibit tank using scuba gear while the “Swim” option features snorkeling along the surface of the water in the exhibit tank. Both programs last for approximately two and a half hours which includes the thirty minutes spent under water. Both options also provide guided tours of some behind-the-scenes areas. The aquarium staff provides all necessary equipment except bathing suits and program participants can bring their own diving mask if they prefer to use their own.
 
While anyone may participate in the “Swim” program, only certified divers may participate in the “Dive” program and must bring proof of their current SCUBA certification and a photo id. Anyone twelve years old or older may participate in both program options but must be accompanied by an adult participant at least eighteen years of age.
 

Spaces are limited and fill up fast so pre-registration is strongly recommended for both “Swim” and “Dive” before the day of your intended visit. Registration may be completed online at the Georgia Aquarium website; by calling (404)581-4000, or; visiting one of the aquarium’s Information Desks prior to your diving visit. The cost per participant is $225 for the “swim” program and $325 for the “dive” program for non-members. Members get a ten percent discount. Aquarium admission, equipment, the exhibit tank experience, a certificate of participation, a dive log book, a t-shirt and a souvenir photo are all included in the program fee. Please check the website for program days and times.

For more info: make your Journey with Gentle Giants online reservation, go to the Georgia Aquarium website at georgiaaquarium.org and then click on the Journey with Gentle Giants Get Your Reservation Today link. FAQ’s about this program may be found at http://www.georgiaaquarium.org/swimOrDive/faq.aspx#faq1.

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