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A Petting Zoo Under The Sea

Every Maryland schoolkid has been on at least one trip to the aquarium in the Inner Harbor. It's one of the state's most well-known tourist attractions, and surely the most recognizable building in the harborplace. If you're anything like me, you could spend, oh, eight years exploring the place--from the Australia exhibit full of huge bats to the rainforest complete with piranhas and sloths. And let's not forget the massive sharks that circle around you, just dreaming of their chance to take a bite...

But as cool as all those things are, you're kept a safe distance from everything. (Which, in the case of the piranhas, is probably a good thing--unless you want your fingers to become a snack!) That's fine, but some of us want to get really up close and personal. And now, guests at the Baltimore Aquarium have their chance. Living Seashore has been open for less than a month, and if you're in the Harbor area, you've got to check it out. Luckily, I got the opportunity, elbowed some kids out of the way, and stuck my hands in the water.

So what animals are in the exhibit?

Living Seashore includes horseshoe crabs, stingrays, starfish and moon jellyfish. No piranhas, thank you very much.

Won't they sting you? I don't want to touch something that stings.

Good question, but I'm pretty sure the aquarium thought through the possibility of a lawsuit. No dangerous animals are included. The stingrays and horseshoe crabs have long, flat stingers, but they won't hurt you. And the moon jellies technically sting, but their prey is really tiny and we wouldn't feel a sting even if they bothered. Additionally, there are staff members on hand to tell everyone how to properly touch the creatures. 

What do they feel like? 

If you've ever touched a firm custard or a block of gelatin, you know exactly what the jellies feel like. The horseshoe crabs are like spiky stones, while the stingrays feel sandpapery. 

Will the exhibit be crowded? 

Is the aquarium ever not crowded? Especially with such a new exhibit, expect crowds. That being said, there's a lot of space around the pools and you shouldn't have much difficulty finding a spot to stand. 

Will my kid like this?

There were tons of kids swarming around the Living Seashore, and they all looked like they were having a blast. It's perfect for children who are curious about science and nature. And if your kids like to do dares (touch that jellyfish!), this is a great controlled environment for them to try it. (Also, if you're worried about germs, there's a hand-washing station at the end of the exhibit.)

 This post was written by Route One Apparel blogger, Eva Niessner.


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