The Shedd Aquarium is an indoor public aquarium in Chicago that contains 32,000 animals. Shedd Aquarium was the first inland aquarium with a permanent saltwater fish collection. Located on Lake Michigan, it is a part of Chicago's Museum Campus, which it shares with the Adler Planetarium and the Field Museum of Natural History. In 2015, the aquarium had 2.02 million visitors. It was the most visited aquarium in the U.S. in 2005, and in 2007, it surpassed the Field Museum as the most popular cultural attraction in Chicago.
The aquarium contains 1,500 species, including fish, marine mammals, birds, snakes, amphibians, and insects. The aquarium received awards for "best exhibit" from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) for its Seahorse Symphony exhibit in 1999, Amazon Rising in 2001, and Wild Reef in 2004. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987.
Here are several permanent exhibits at Shedd: Waters of the World, Caribbean Reef, Amazon Rising, Wild Reef, and the Abbott Oceanarium.
Waters of the World: The oldest galleries in the aquarium feature exhibits on oceans, rivers, islands and lakes, and Chicago's own local waters. Species on exhibit include Haraldmeier's mantellas, a Giant Pacific Octopus, Gymnarchuses, Blue Iguanas, starfish, seahorses, and Alligator Snapping Turtles.
Caribbean Reef: The Caribbean Reef exhibit was built in 1971, on the site of the aquarium's very first exhibit, the Tropical Pool. A feature of this exhibit is a diver that interacts with the animals while talking with the people. A part of the exhibit is a 90,000 U.S. gallon circular tank that allows for maximum walk-around viewing. It was one of the first habitats to display schooling fish. It is also home to the rescued green sea turtle, Nickel, as well as Bonnethead Sharks, Tarpons, stingrays, and many more. The exhibit is near the center of the first floor. It is adjacent to Amazon Rising, Waters of the World, and Wild Reef.
Amazon Rising: The Amazon Rising exhibit is an 8,600 square-foot walk through a flooded forest recreation of the Amazon River and the surrounding jungle. This exhibit contains 250 different species, and its highest water level is six feet. Species from this area on exhibit include anacondas, piranhas, spiders, freshwater stingrays, and caimans.
Wild Reef: In 2003, Shedd opened Wild Reef, a permanent exhibit located two levels below the main building. The exhibit contains a total of 525,000 U.S. gallons and recreates a Philippine coral reef on the Apo Island marine reserve, complete with living coral, multiple species of fish and rays, and a collection of sharks such as Sandbar, Sawfish, Zebra, and Blacktip Reef Sharks. The main draw of this attraction is a 400,000 U.S. gallon shark tank with 12 foot high curved windows, allowing visitors a diver's-eye view. The Wild Reef exhibit also features a saltwater tank display area where coral is propagated and grown for conservation purposes.
Stingray Touch: Opened on May 17, 2013, this exhibit allows guests to touch Cownose Rays and Yellow Spotted Rays as they swim around their 20,000 U.S. gallon volume outdoor exhibit. Located on the aquarium's South Terrace, this exhibit is open seasonally May through October (weather permitting).
Fantasea: Fantasea was a multiple animal show at Shedd Aquarium, running from October 16, 2009, through 2010. The show featured sea lions, Beluga Whales, penguins, hawks, and dolphins.
One World: One World aquatic presentation replaced Fantasea in 2013. The show can feature belugas, dolphins, penguins, sea lions, a hawk, and dogs. A holiday version is sometimes shown in November and December.
4D Theater: The 4D Theater opened in 2009 as part of the renovation of the Abbott Oceanarium. The 4D experience includes a 3D film with interactive seats, high-tech audio and interactive elements like scents and bubbles. Films shown have included "Coastal Predators," "Sea Monsters," "SpongeBob SquarePants," "Planet Earth," "Ice Age," "Dora the Explorer," "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer," (seasonal) and the "Polar Express" (seasonal).
This aquarium is free for students on weekdays throughout the month of February, so grab your ID card and pay it a visit. Along with this, you can also visit Adler Planetarium and the Field Museum of Natural History for free.