We knew the perfect way to spend a very HOT August day in Charleston, SC was to explore the South Carolina Aquarium. It really was amazing and it was so much fun for the whole family.
This unique facility in historic downtown Charleston is both educational and entertaining for at least a few hours. It is also home to more than 5000 animals!
Once we got into the aquarium we went to the Shallows which gave us a view of the Arthur Ravenell Jr. Bridge. We all got to touch the sting rays while we were in the Shallows.
Mountains to the Sea
The first thing you see when you enter the aquarium is an enormous tank of countless, colorful fish. The aquarium will take you on a journey from South Carolina’s mountains to the sea, exploring native animals and plants in a variety of exhibits of birds, plants, reptile and plenty of sea creatures from turtles to otters.
Behind the scenes
We had the amazing opportunity to go behind the scenes and experience the aquarium like never before. We even got to see scuba divers prepping for a daily dive show when we were behind the scenes of the biggest tank in the aquarium!
The first stop on our tour was the food preparation room. Our tour guide explained all about the feeding procedure and schedule for the different animals. They all get fed according to their needs and we learned what they were all fed and how many times a day! All the foods are measured and weighed according to a schedule. Did you know they spend about $130,000 dollars a year in food for all the animals at the aquarium?! Neither did we!
Next was the room with the various pumps, filters and piping required to support all the displays. It’s really something that I have never even thought about when walking through an aquarium, but it was very interesting to see how things work.
There are three types of filters required. The first is a mechanical sand filter that removes the larger particles present in the water kinda like the sand filter used in a swimming pool. A chemical filter mixes the tank water with reagents to remove various pollutants. And then finally a biological filter uses various types of bacteria to devour any biological pollutants. It was definitely something interesting to learn and a part of the aquarium I never realized even existed!
The Great Ocean Tank
Over forty feet deep and holding 385,000 gallons of salt water, the view from the top on the third floor of the aquarium is the most impressive. This tank is two stories tall and features sharks and fish living in the Atlantic off the SC coast!
The 250 pound Loggerhead sea turtle, named “Caretta” came by to check us out while we were there. My daughters had the opportunity to talk with one of the divers. He even gave them fresh shark teeth that he had found that morning!
Sea Turtle Recovery Center
The Sea Turtle Recovery center is hands-down one of the best interactive exhibits we’ve ever seen. The girls loved learning about the sea turtles that were in the recovery center and they were very surprised to see how big sea turtles really are!
It’s the only facility in South Carolina devoted to the care and treatment of sick and injured sea turtles. The turtle operating room is also open to watch if there’s a surgery going on, there wasn’t when we were there.
Our amazing tour guide also gave us some real Turtle Scutes! Basically a scute is part of their shell, it is like a snake shedding its skin. A turtle’s scutes will shed or peel away to make way for new, larger scutes. Shedding is a natural process, and scutes are cast off intermittently during daily activities such as swimming. Another awesome fact I learned at the aquarium!
It is impossible to share everything we saw. But, everyone agrees that our day at the South Carolina Aquarium was well worth it. We will definitely be visiting again!