Yesterday we took a trip to visit what I thought was the New Jersey State Aquarium in Camden, NJ. It had apparently been renamed Adventure Aquarium for some reason. Wasn't until I was doing some research for this entry when I read that it had been going downhill for some years now before shutting down near the end of 2004 and then reopening last year under private management. But apparently the new and improved aquarium is much better than the old so I guess we picked a good time to go.
Sure, the New York Aquarium is a much closer trip but I figured we've been there a few times already so we might as well check out our native Jersey site (even though the original New Jersey State Aquarium was actually run by the Philadelphia Zoo). It's unfortunate to see however, that the area around the riverfront where the aquarium and the Battleship New Jersey are located hasn't seem to have improved much. Doesn't seem to be particularly safe once you leave the attractions area.
I was surprised to see the above lobsters at the aquarium because these are the lobsters you'd see for sale at the seafood restaurants in Taiwan. That's what all the lobsters there look like. A heck of a lot more colorful than the regular red/black/orange ones we see here. Anyway, for this trip I was equipped with my 35mm f/1.4 for the indoor exhibits and the 70-200 f/2.8IS w/1.4x extender for the outdoor exhibits.
It was amusing to see the tropical and reef displays where many of the colorful fish I had already seen numerous times at my most frequented local fish store. Heck, I even owned a few of the tropical fish they had in their displays. But the shark-petting pool was kinda neat where they had 2 very small sharks and a bunch of rays in a shallow pool that you could lean over and cop a feel as they swam by. One of the sharks seemed to just love the attention because he'd continously swim the circumference of the pool with his snout out of the water. The rays were not as friendly as they'd stick mostly to the bottom of the pool so you really had to stick your arm into the pool to get to them.
Despite it being an aquarium, they did have some non-aquatic critters around as well. These poisonous frogs were a good example. These guys almost looked fake in their exhibit until they moved around. Despite having the 35mm on hand, I wound up not getting many keepers since most of the aquarium exhibits are very dimly lit so even though the 1.4 aperture could handle it, I'd wind up with a razor-thin depth of field. And sometimes the fish moved too quickly. Like I would have loved to have gotten a good pic of the bluefin tuna that they had in their deep ocean tank. Those things are awesome. For some reason I find them just mesmerizing.
They also had a hippo pen for some reason as part of their exhibits with 2 big ol' hippos sharing a pool that was stocked with tons of fish. Also had some birds and ducks in the same enclosure. Which was a little odd cause the enclosure wasn't fenced in very high so I don't know why the birds never left the enclosure. But it was actually a pretty nice exhibit. The hippos seemed rather placid, nothing like the dangerous beasts you always hear about on the nature shows.
They did have a big shark tank as well with the now-requisite walk-through tunnel. Pretty nice but nothing new. I guess they must keep the sharks well-fed cause there were tons of non-sharks in the tank and they seemed to cohabitate rather peacefully. The layout of this new aquarium is a little Ikea-like as the shark exhibit leads directly into the gift shop. And once you exit the gift shop, the majority of the pathway leads down to the exit with only a side passage leading you back towards the cafeteria and the rest of the aquarium.
Speaking of the cafeteria, it's typical cafeteria fare. I'm sure the hot dogs, hamburgers, fries, and the like are ok but stay away from the Philly cheesesteak. You would think being located so close to Philly the cheesesteak would be halfway decent but it's just terrible.
They also have two outdoor exhibits with penguins and seals. Not exactly much which was disappointing cause I didn't get a chance to break out the big lens. Anyway, overall it was a nice way to spend a lazy afternoon. They also have a theater in there now but getting in to see the Spongebob-themed show required more money which we figured we could pass on since we didn't have any kids with us. But it seems like the new aquarium is a much better experience than the old and we had a good time.