Location: 717 General Booth Blvd., Virginia Beach, VA. 23451, ph: (757) 385-FISH (3474)
Step into the water with harbor seals, or marvel as rare species of endangered sea turtles make their home in the 800,000 gallons of aquariums.
Be transported below the ocean surface with the planet’s most unique, dangerous and colorful creatures at the 3D IMAX Theater.
There's plenty to do and to learn at the Virginia Aquarium:
Witness Habitats that Shaped Virginia with the Restless Planet Exhibit: Experience the new Restless Planet exhibit and witness four habitats from around the world that existed in Virginia millions of years ago. Visitors will explore immersive live-animal exhibits and engage in 36 new hands-on activities designed to demonstrate the processes that shaped Virginia’s current landscape. Explore a Malaysian Peat Swamp, a Coastal Sahara Desert, the Red Sea, and Indonesia’s Flores Island. The new exhibit will recreate the look, feel and smell of those environments, as well as showcase many of the animals that adapted to those environments
Ready to get your feet wet? Peter, Piper, Hector and Norton, the harbor seals at the Virginia Aquarium, invite you to step into their watery world. During the Harbor Seal Splash program, visitors climb into the seals’ aquarium to interact and train with these 250-pound pinnipeds, while discovering more about the natural history and conservation efforts that surround harbor seals. It is the only program in the United States that allows visitors to interact in the water with harbor seals. Through this informative two-hour program, visitors are treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the Aquarium, and then participate in a training session in the seals’ holding area and in the seals’ aquarium, all under the direction and supervision of Aquarium harbor seal trainers.
During the hour-long Harbor Seals: Behind the Scenes program, guests as young as three years old can venture into the restricted harbor seal holding area to meet some of the Aquarium educators, professional training staff and the seals themselves. This program teaches the natural history of seals and also gives participants a better understanding about animal training techniques, including specialized training that ensures the health and veterinary care of the seals.
The Virginia Aquarium recently launched its Sensible Seafood program in partnership with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program and regional seafood experts. The program is designed to help consumers make sustainable seafood choices when shopping and dining in stores and restaurants.
The Virginia Aquarium is working with conservation efforts to help preserve the environment. All the current renovations at the Aquarium are green. Everything removed from the building is either being recycled back into the building or being used somewhere else. The Sodexo café is also environmentally friendly with recycled napkins, cornstarch ware, and potato starch flatware. The Virginia Aquarium is the first certified green attraction in Virginia.
Witness the wonders of the sea when embarking on one of the many boat trips offered throughout the year by the Virginia Aquarium. See some of the most magnificent creatures on earth in their natural habitat. Winter whale watchers will search for humpback and fin whales, and summer visitors watch bottlenose dolphins as they frolic in the waves. Board the Rudee Explorer, a 50-passenger pontoon boat, and explore the Owl’s Creek Salt Marsh, the last undeveloped salt marsh in Virginia Beach. Experience what is really found at the bottom of the ocean during the Ocean Collections boat trip, where Aquarium staff will trawl the ocean floor for a sample of sea life to bring on board. All boat trips are seasonal.
Unfortunately many awe-inspiring sea creatures end up stranded on our beaches each year – sick, injured or even dead. “Strandings” can be due to natural causes or human interaction. However, those tragedies provide unique opportunities for scientists to examine these animals that are otherwise difficult to study in their natural habitats. The Stranding Response Program is part of the Aquarium’s Research & Conservation Division. The Stranding Team works at the Virginia Aquarium’s Stranding Center in Virginia Beach to rescue and rehabilitate live animals, collect data from dead specimens and support research on stranded marine animals found in Virginia. Most importantly, through their passion and commitment, they serve as environmental ambassadors educating the public about these magnificent animals and their conservation needs.
The Virginia Aquarium offers outdoor experiences and hands-on explorations for children ages 3 to 15 years. From weeklong summer camps to one-hour afternoon activities, there is a variety of programs for every interest year-round. Kids get up close and personal with some of nature’s creepy creatures, and learn how Virginia Beach’s first residents survived without shopping malls, grocery stores, cars and video games. In other programs, young artists spend afternoons creating arts and crafts while celebrating the beauty of winter.
IMAX is the ultimate movie experience. With crystal clear images up to six stories high, and wrap-around digital surround sound, IMAX takes you to places you only imagined. During the “Under the Sea” 3D movie, you will feel as if you are swimming with some of the planet’s most unique, dangerous and colorful creatures below the ocean surface. Experience a close encounter with the lions and tigers of the ocean in the “Sharks 3D” movie.
At the Virginia Aquarium, discover a distinctive venue for weddings and receptions. From an intimate, sit-down dinner for 20 to a reception for 2,000 of your closest friends and family, the Virginia Aquarium can accommodate almost any event. And with nearly 800,000 gallons of aquariums and live animal habitats, more than 300 hands-on exhibits and a 3D IMAX Theater, weddings are guaranteed to make a splash.