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Camden’s Adventure Aquarium Ranked Best On The East Coast

Wild waters are full of mysterious creatures, from small and dangerous peacock mantis shrimp -- its claw can clamp down on your finger with the force of a .22 caliber bullet -- to massive whale sharks, the largest fish in the world. You can get up close and personal with these marine animals and others at these top aquariums across the US. Read on for our favorite aquariums across the country. 

The National Aquarium splits its collection of 16,500 marine animals between Baltimore and Washington, DC. If you only have time to check out one location, join the 1.5 million visitors headed to Maryland where 115,000 square feet of exhibit space takes you to waters near and far: Designed like a river gorge, the Australia: Wild Extremesexperience showcases down under land and sea creatures such as the nonvenomous black-headed python and the freshwater mouth almighty fish. You can also meet the state’s backyard animals -- American bullfrogs and blue crabs -- at the Maryland: Mountains to the Seaexhibit. 

Plan your trip before Labor Day to pay a visit to Mighty Mike, a 14-foot, 800-pound alligator at Adventure Aquarium in Camden, NJ. Visitors should also walk through the shark tunnel -- the aquarium has the only great hammerhead sharks in the U.S. -- and sign up for a hands-on experience with stingrays. 

The nonprofit Monterey Bay Aquarium, located in Monterey, CA, is not only home to peacock mantis shrimp (its mighty claw has been known to break tank walls) and large mysterious mola mola -- also known as ocean sunfish, they grow to 2,200 pounds -- it’s also one of the world’s leading ocean conservation organizations. The Sea Otter Research and Conservation program (SORAC), for example, works to rehabilitate and breed the Pacific Coast native, whose population dropped to about 50 in 1911 (today, there are approximately 2,800). Learn more at the aquarium’s Sea Otter Exhibit, always a favorite among visitors. 

Located in Long Beach, CA, the Aquarium of the Pacific has more than 11,000 marine creatures, representing 500 species, including threatened animals such as the sand tiger shark, the giant sea bass and the olive ridley sea turtle. While the Shark Lagoon and year-oldJune Keyes Penguin Habitat are some of the most popular exhibits, don’t miss smaller galleries where lesser-known ocean inhabitants -- flamboyant cuttlefish, for example, which continuously change color -- thrive. 

Close to 2.17 million people visited Shedd Aquarium, housed in a 1930 Beaux-Arts building outside of Chicago, in 2012, many of which stopped by Granddad’s tank: The Australian lungfish is the oldest living fish in any aquarium in the world. Sea otters, dolphins and beluga whales also vie for your attention, but don’t miss the At Home on the Great Lakes exhibit. The new show hones in on this diverse North American ecosystem, which not only supports 36 million people but also 3,500 plant and animal species -- 200 of which are globally rare. 

Get over your fear of sharks at the Newport Aquarium, located outside of Cincinnati, housing 57 of the (often misunderstood) marine predators. Here, visitors walk through an acrylic tube were 6 shark types, some up to 10 feet in length, swim around you. Take it to the next level at Shark Central, where you can touch more than a dozen of these fierce fish in a 5,000-gallon tank. 

You might associate the world’s great coral reefs with regions like Australia and Central America, but the Florida Aquarium in Tampa models its popular coral gallery after Dry Tortuga formations off the Florida Keys. There are over 2,000 reef residents in this 500,000-gallon tank, including many species that are native to the Sunshine State. The institution also helps propagate reefs throughout the region, along with other efforts such as rescuing sea turtles, river otters and manatees. 

The Georgia Aquarium (georgiaaquarium.org) in Atlanta is the only center outside of Asia with whale sharks; the globe’s largest fish are housed in a 6.3 million-gallon tank (along with 9-foot manta rays), the biggest aquatic exhibit in the world. You can also see American albino alligators as well as the institution’s latest addition, Australian pig-nosed turtles, in the River Scout gallery. 

You’ll see more than ocean dwellers at the Dallas World Aquarium. Since opening in 1992, the Texas center has expanded to include the Orinoco-Secrets of the River, a rainforest experience, as well as the Mundo Maya exhibit, which focuses on plants and animals that were historically important to ancient Mayan culture. This includes the world’s largest collection of toucans, cotingas and manakins, all brightly colored tropical birds. 

The Waikiki Aquarium on Honolulu distinguishes itself by hosting a number of species that are distinctive to -- you guessed it -- the Hawaiian island chain. This includes the Hawaiian monk seal, one of the world’s most endangered species (there are only 1,100 of the 400-plus-pound mammals left) as well as a number of reefs (the aquarium has the oldest living collection of corals in the US). Don’t miss the tank with the peppermint angelfish, a French Polynesian native that’s currently on loan from the Smithsonian and valued at more than $30,000. 

The decade-old Alaska Sealife Center dedicates itself to the research, rehabilitation and education of native Alaska marine species. Unlike a typical aquarium, guests buy tickets to shadow researchers working with area harbor seals, for example, or to tour the center’s aviary with a bird keeper. Alaska Sealife’s rehabilitation department also nurses stranded or injured animals -- spectacled eider birds and sea otters, among others -- and releases them, when possible, back into the wild cold waters.


Restored 1930s yacht finds way home to Camden

CAMDEN — The old wooden lady has come home to Camden.

The Rip Tide, a 30-foot auxiliary cutter sailing yacht built here during the Great Depression, is back on the waters of the Delaware River at Wiggins Marina. The refurbished pleasure boat was donated to the Camden Shipyard & Maritime Museum and will become part of the CSMM’s Urban Boatworks Program.

The yacht was designed and built by John Trumpy in 1935 at the old John H. Mathis Shipyard in Camden. Trumpy, who arrived in the United States from Norway at the turn of the century, was famous for his luxury wooden yachts.

One was the 104-foot Sequoia, which became the U.S. Presidential Yacht in 1933. Presidents from Roosevelt to Carter enjoyed the opulent vessel.

The Rip Tide was one of only four 30-foot sailing yachts created by Trumpy but was lost to Trumpy’s descendants until 2007.

“The yacht was discovered in Michigan by Trumpy’s granddaughter, Peg, and her husband, Bill,” said Michael Lang, vicepresident of the CSMM board of trustees.

“It was in rather rough shape. But with the help of some friends, (Peg and Bill) lovingly restored it and brought it to Barnegat Bay, where they sailed her for a number of years,” Lang added.

“They finally decided to find a permanent home for it and decided to share with the museum.”

Touring the yacht is like sailing back in time. The mahogany cabin gleams, and a small alcohol-fueled stove stands ready. There is an icebox — few had refrigerators in the ’30s — and a tiny bathroom with a flip-down sink.

Urban Boatworks, launched in 2008, provides opportunities for city kids to build their own kayaks, canoes and small boats. The Rip Tide will offer them the chance to learn how to sail.

“This is a great addition to the waterfront attractions, and we’re very excited to have it here. It’s something to inspire young people, to get them out on the water, to get out in nature,” Lang said.

Lang said programs to utilize Rip Tide will be developed over the winter.

“We’re not rushing to get the kids on board,” said the former Rutgers-Camden professor. “And we’re always cognizant of safety precautions that have to be in place.”

The Rip Tide’s mast rises 45 feet high. It includes an environmentally friendly electric motor and can comfortably hold six to eight people.

Looking around the marina on a recent sun-kissed morning, Lang said: “She’s the only wooden boat out here. There’s almost a spiritual element in that it was made from all natural materials.

“Trumpy’s boats were built for the rich and the wealthy. And now this is here for the city’s kids.

“Hopefully, they’ll get excited about it and even pick up on some that spirituality that is part of a wooden boat.”

Reach Joe Cooney at (856) 317-7830 or jcooney@gannett.com


South Camden Theatre Co. opens the regional premiere of KINGDOM OF EARTH written by Tennessee Williams and directed by Connie Norwood. Production Opens October 11 and runs Through October 27, 2013 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8p.m and Sundays at 2p.m

CAMDEN, NJ, September 23, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- South Camden Theatre Company, a nonprofit professional theatre company located in Camden, New Jersey announces its ninth season titled "Everything's Relative" with the regional premiere of KINGDOM OF EARTH written by Tennessee Williams and directed by Connie Norwood. The cast includes Alissa Nesson as Myrtle, John Schultz as Lot and Roderick Slocum as Chicken.

KINGDOM OF EARTH is a Southern Gothic play by Tennessee Williams that is set in 1960 during a storm ravaged night on the Mississippi River as a man and his new bride return to his ancestral home to battle his half-brother for control of the estate. Also titled THE SEVEN DESCENTS OF MYRTLE this rarely produced play from an American master playwright confronts race, sexuality against the backdrop of Southern mythology.

Producing Artistic Director Joseph M. Paprzycki states, "KINGDOM OF EARTH marks the fifth time South Camden Theatre Company has produced a work by Williams as he is a key playwright for our company. I was inspired to bring this rarely produced play to our audience after seeing an amazing production by Abrahamse-Meyers Productions a Cape Town, South African company at last year's Provincetown Tennessee Williams Festival."

All performances will be held Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 p.m. at the 96-seat Waterfront South Theatre located at 400 Jasper Street in Camden, New Jersey. Tickets are available for purchase for $20 online at http://www.southcamdentheatre.org, by calling 1-866-811-4111 or at the door. This production is recommended for mature audiences. For more information about South Camden Theatre Company, please visit www.southcamdentheatre.org. Follow the company on Twitter at @ArtWillSaveUs and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SouthCamdenTheatreCompany.

About South Camden Theatre Company, Inc.

The South Camden Theatre Company is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit professional theatre company dedicated to helping revitalize the City of Camden, New Jersey by producing meaningful, professional theater in the City's Waterfront South District. Founded by a playwright, the South Camden Theatre Company stages seldom-seen, classic plays and original works as the resident theatre company at Waterfront South Theatre. South Camden Theatre Company is a proud member of The New Jersey Theatre Alliance, South Jersey Cultural Alliance, and the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance. For more information on South Camden Theatre Company and Waterfront South Theatre, visit www.southcamdentheatre.org.

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