Aquarium gives visitors chance to ‘walk among the fish’

 

Greater Cleveland AquariumNautica Entertainment Complex

2000 Sycamore Street

Cleveland

216-862-8803

 

Admission charges:

Adults – $21.95

Children 2 to 12 – $15.95

Children under 2 – free

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Monday through Sunday

 

I always thought of fish as boring. A college roommate’s fish tank was the closest I ever came to having a pet goldfish. I don’t even like “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

Having owned a bird, a hamster and a dog over the years, I always thought of the aquarium section of pet stores as dullsville.

A visit to the Jan. 19 grand opening of the Greater Cleveland Aquarium has begun to change that attitude. Located in the FirstEnergy Powerhouse at the Nautica Entertainment Complex in the Flats, the aquarium allows visitors an up-close look at thousands of creatures who call the water their home.

The freshwater exhibit features species native to Ohio’s rivers and lakes, as well as alligators, who seemed to be hiding in their new home when I passed by.

A touch tank allows visitors to lean over and touch a horseshoe crab or starfish.

The coolest part of the aquarium is the Marinescape SeaTube, a corridor whose top 180 degrees is glass that provides a view into a 500,000-gallon tank. The panoramic views of marine life include 15 sharks from four species – sandbar, blacknose, nurse and sand tiger.

Kids were fascinated by the chance to get so close to sharks.

But the most fascinating – and majestic – creatures were the rays. From withing the SeaTube, they seemed to fly overhead in groups of three to 12.

The New Zealand-based Marinescape is a partner in the Greater Cleveland Aquarium along with Jacobs Entertainment, owner of the Nautica Entertainment Complex. The Cleveland SeaTube is Marinescape’s first in North America.

FirstEnergy and AMPCO, the parking lot operator at Nautica, both contributed funding for the aquarium.

The aquarium makes good use of the building by integrating the tanks into the architecture of the Powerhouse.

The Greater Cleveland Aquarium includes classrooms that can be used for educational programs with local schools. The organization will use Windows on the River banquet facilities and Jacobs Pavilion for special events.

The opening of the aquarium also represents a victory for a community where talking about projects is easier than getting them done. Aquarium officials believe the facility, which has a payroll of $1.6 million for its 50 employees, will draw up to 500,000 visitors to the downtown area.

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