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Virginia Beach Aquarium and Marine Science Center, Virginia Beach, VA

Visit Virginia Beach Aquarium and Marine Science Center, one of the best aquariums and animal habitats in the country, as part of the group motorcoach vacation package. Located in Virginia Beach, south of Rudee Inlet, the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center was started when C. Mac Rawls, a science supervisor for Virginia Beach Public Schools, was asked to create a panel to study the school board’s suggestion for a science resource room. This idea expanded and on June 14, 1986, a 41,500-square-foot facility officially opened as the Virginia Marine Science Museum with hopes of inspiring conservation of the marine environment through education, research and sustainable practices.

Visiting the Virginia Beach Aquarium and Marine Science Center

During your visit to the Virginia Aquarium, travel on an aquatic journey from the shore to the depths of the Atlantic Ocean as you explore coastal habitats from around the world in the aquarium’s two main exhibit buildings, the Bay and Ocean Pavilion and the Marsh Pavilion. Shopping and dining experiences await you in both the Bay and Ocean and Marsh Pavilions.

Green Sea Turtle

Green Sea Turtle

40-Foot Tunnel Through Red Seas Exhibit

40-Foot Tunnel Through Red Seas Exhibit

Otters Playing

Otters Playing

Sand Tiger Shark

Sand Tiger Shark

Hector the Seal

Hector the Seal

Loggerhead Turtle

Loggerhead Turtle

River Otter

River Otter

Sand Tiger Shark

Sand Tiger Shark

Komodo Dragon

Komodo Dragon

Arabian Angelfish

Arabian Angelfish

Lionfish

Lionfish

River Otter

River Otter

Sea Turtle

Sea Turtle

Piper the Seal

Piper the Seal

Red Breast Wrasse

Red Breast Wrasse

Virginia Aquarium

Virginia Aquarium

Green Sea Turtle Green Sea Turtle
40-Foot Tunnel Through Red Seas Exhibit 40-Foot Tunnel Through Red Seas Exhibit
Otters Playing Otters Playing
Sand Tiger Shark Sand Tiger Shark
Hector the Seal Hector the Seal

Animals and Exhibits at the Virginia Beach Aquarium and Marine Science Center

Cownose Rays

Cownose rays are often found brushing along the sandy, shallow waters of Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay, but it’s not unusual to find them up to 72 feet deep in the ocean. Visit the Aquarium’s ray touch pool in the Bay and Ocean Pavilion. Catch them in the morning or afternoon to watch them be fed by an aquarist.

Harbor Seals

Watch the Aquarium’s four male seals, Peter, Piper, Norton and Hector at play. These unique creatures are mammals that breathe air, but are able to hold their breath for almost 30 minutes allowing them to dive depths of 500 feet.

Loggerhead Sea Turtles

Loggerhead sea turtles are found in subtropical and tropical ocean waters and in coastal waters such as bays, lagoons and river mouths. In the Light Tower Aquarium you can watch as these mystifying 250 to 500 pound creatures swim with fish and other sea turtle species, the Kemp’s ridley, an olive ridley and a green turtle.

North American River Otters

River otters, the largest member of the weasel family, in the United States and Canada are often found in streams, rivers, lakes, estuaries and salt and freshwater marshes. While they spend a good amount of time on land, their webbed feet make them more at home in the water. Meet the Virginia Aquarium’s three male otters: Tippy, Homer and Sheldon.

Sand Tiger Sharks

In its Norfolk Canyon Aquarium, the Virginia Beach Aquarium and Marine Science Center houses three sand tiger sharks, each individual shark identified by unique physical characteristics. These sharks co-exist with other species of sharks as well as other fish and rays.

Blue Crab Corner

Uncover the natural history of the blue crab, appreciate its integration into the local culture and economy and understand the necessity of proper management of this precious resource. Located in the Marsh Pavilion, Blue Crab Corner is a dock structure that holds 750 gallons of crab habitat with viewing points below water through the cylinder’s walls and from within a crab pot inside the exhibit.

Chesapeake Bay Touch Pool

Touch a horseshoe crab, Forbes sea star, whelk, or hermit crab as docents standing by explain their anatomy and behavior. The Chesapeake Bay Touch Pool, home to fun and friendly sea creatures, represents the shallow waters around the famous Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.

Indonesian Volcanic Island

Learn about Mount Rogers, Virginia’s tallest mountain in Indonesian Volcanic Island. Komodo dragons, the largest lizard in the world, slither around this exhibit while colorful Indonesian finches flutter overhead. One of the exhibit’s highlights is a special viewing area that allows guests to crawl under the exhibit and pop up into an acrylic dome to see these unique animals up-close.

Malaysian Peat Swamp

Experience the humidity and hear the sounds of thunder and dripping water as you come face to face with unusual animals from Southeast Asia in Malaysian Peat Swamp. Snakehead fish, Southeast Asian turtles, Malayan leaf frogs and the rare tomistoma crocodile are some of the animals that live here.

Mediterranean Sea

In the Mediterranean Sea exhibit, discover how when the Coastal Sahara Desert meets the Mediterranean Sea, it creates conditions similar to those of Virginia’s Silurian Period. Minerals left behind when an ancient sea evaporated from a then-scalding desert are located in the Aquarium today. Featured in this exhibit are seahorses, cuttlefish, cobras, scorpions and hedgehogs.

Red Sea

The Red Sea exhibit explores the Triassic Period in Virginia. During this time, Virginia was along a rift zone that led to the creation of the Atlantic Ocean.  See colorful live coral in an 8,000 gallon aquarium or walk through a 40-foot tunnel surrounded by a 100,000 gallon Red Sea Aquarium and come face to face with eagle rays and zebra sharks.

Whales: Voices in the Sea

Listen to the sounds of the humpback, sperm, blue, Baird’s beaked, killer, beluga and northern right whales in Whales: Voices in the Sea. Information on the conservation of whales and interviews with scientists about whales are also featured in this exhibit.

 

Shop the Aquarium Stores

If time permits, stop by Virginia Beach Aquarium and Marine Science Center stores. Located in both the Bay and Ocean Pavilion and the Marsh Pavilion, the Aquarium’s stores carry unique merchandise, local handicrafts and “green” options for eco-friendly gifts and keepsakes.

Food and Drinks at Virginia Beach Aquarium

Grab a snack from the Theater Snack Stand. Located in the Bay and Ocean Pavilion, the Snack Stand offers soft drinks, Icees, popcorn, hot pretzels and nachos. Sandwiches, salads, hot entrees, desserts and a variety of beverages are available for purchase from the Aquarium Café, also located in the Bay and Ocean Pavilion.

Travel Tips

-          It takes approximately 2.5 hours to see the exhibits in both the Bay and Ocean and Marsh Pavilions.

-          The Virginia Beach Aquarium and Marine Science Center are ADA compliant.

-          With so much to explore at the Aquarium, make sure you check the schedule posted behind the welcome desk upon arrival for the most up-to-date information about programs and activities being offered during your visit.  

Loggerhead Turtle Loggerhead Turtle
River Otter River Otter
Sand Tiger Shark Sand Tiger Shark
Komodo Dragon Komodo Dragon
Arabian Angelfish Arabian Angelfish
Lionfish Lionfish
River Otter River Otter
Sea Turtle Sea Turtle
Piper the Seal Piper the Seal
Red Breast Wrasse Red Breast Wrasse
Virginia Aquarium Virginia Aquarium