It's more than just fishThere’s a place in Duluth that has more than 900 fish, and it isn’t just the largest freshwater lake in the world. It’s the Great Lakes Aquarium, which is celebrating its 12th anniversary this year — with several new exhibits geared toward different ages.
There’s a place in Duluth that has more than 900 fish, and it isn’t just the largest freshwater lake in the world. It’s the Great Lakes Aquarium, which is celebrating its 12th anniversary this year — with several new exhibits geared toward different ages.
If you think you know all about fish, take a look from the fishes’ point of view.
That’s one aspect of the Great Lakes Aquarium, America’s only all-freshwater aquarium.
“If you’re an outdoors person, you may think that you’ve gone fishing and seen the fish before,” Sarah Erickson, the aquarium’s education director, told the Budgeteer.
“In the Isle Royale exhibit, you get to see them from the perspective of being underwater,” she said. “You really get the understanding of a bigger picture than even just sitting in a boat.”
A lot of aquaria offer visitors a fish-eye view,
but a new exhibit at the aquarium allows patrons to interact with shadow technology.
“Repel the Invaders” — which opened in June — is a new animated, interactive exhibit that was developed by the visual and digital lab at UMD.
“Your shadow interacts with the fish on the screen, so the fish can swim around you or you can use your shadow to lasso them,” Erickson said. “The message we’re trying to get across is that people are part of the solution when it comes to invasive species.”
Through partnerships — such as UMD — the aquarium has been able to provide exhibits such as Repel the Invaders.
“We’ve added seven exhibits in the last five years, which has had a very positive impact on the visitor’s experience here,” executive director Jack LaVoy told the Budgeteer.
Tamara Danenberg, a fourth-grade teacher from Osseo, Wis., has taken school groups to the aquarium several times.
“The most rewarding experience for my students was seeing the diversity and complexity of the Great Lakes,” Danenberg said. “One of their favorite areas was the “Masters of Disguise” exhibit.”
Masters of Disguise, an exhibit that features sea creatures and land animals, just welcomed new friends Einstein the octopus, lionfish, moon jellies, and an expanded coral reef display.
“While we have a freshwater focus, we do have a saltwater gallery and we’re celebrating our recent newcomers,” LaVoy said.
Another popular attraction at the aquarium is the Great Lakes water table.
“I know I had talked to students about the levels of the Great Lakes and the ships moving between them,” Danenberg said, “But I don’t think they really “got it” until they saw the way it worked with the water table.”
The exhibit shows how the Great Lakes are laid out and how they function.
“I think that different people find different things interesting — even in the same space,” Erickson said. “The water table is not only for kids, but interesting for adults to understand the lakes.”
The 900 fish find their home in several tanks throughout the building.
“The otter cove is very popular, as well as the Isle Royale tank with prismatic fish and dive shows scheduled nearly every day,” LaVoy said. “And there’s nothing more refreshing on a hot August day than cooling off by the Baptism River.”
Besides the informative exhibits, the younger visitors also have the opportunity to become involved with various camps and education programs.
“We have seasonal camps, a preschool program called “Whirligigs,” and we also offer opportunities for kindergartners, school groups, and scouts,” Erickson said.
“We make sure to provide activities that are unique
to the aquarium.”
“Our Whirligigs program uses age-appropriate ways to help young children and their families learn about and care for the world around them,” Alexis Berke, early childhood educator at the aquarium, told the
But the younger visitors aren’t the only ones that will find the aquarium an interesting place to learn and discover.