The Maritime Aquarium, located in Norwalk, Connecticut, provides a glimpse into the marine life and maritime culture of Long Island Sound. The non-profit institution strives to provide a lively and entertaining learning environment through living exhibits, marine science, and environmental education.
Opening in July 1988, the aquarium was built in an 1860s iron works factory, an abandoned brick building on the SoNo waterfront.
Originally called the Maritime Center at Norwalk, the aquarium changed its name in 1996 for its better identification among the public. Today, the aquarium with its impressive wealth of marine life has become one of the largest attractions in Connecticut.
The aquarium provides a home for more than 1,000 marine animals indigenous to the Sound that represent successive levels of life.
The shallow tidal areas feature oysters, sea horses, and small fish, whereas nine-foot sharks, bluefish, striped bass, and rays are found in the 110,000-gallon Open Ocean tank.
The woodland shoreline river habitat, the hands-on Touch Tank, loggerhead sea turtles, and the "Jellyfish Encounter" area are worth visiting.
Harbor seals can be seen in the indoor-outdoor tank at the Falconer Hall, where the habitat trail begins and ends. The rays are exhibited at the Ray Touch Pool in the two-story Maritime Hall, adjacent to the Falconer Hall.
The art of building wooden boats is illustrated at the Boat Shop. An introduction to those local creatures is offered at the Ocean Playspace, a protected area for children. In addition, a special exhibit space is available where the exhibits are changed frequently.
The aquarium boasts Connecticut's only IMAX Theater. Films are shown on an eighty-foot-wide and six-story high screen, with a six-channel surround-sound audio system.
The aquarium also features unique and memorable settings for weddings, receptions, and parties. In addition, there is a large gift shop and a 180-seat food-service area.
Several interesting and educational programs are conducted during school vacations and holidays. The Maritime Aquarium, in coordination with other institutions, participates in research projects. A Marine Life Study Cruise, educational lectures, and basic boating course are among other activities.