Situated on Charleston harbor, the South Carolina Aquarium is one of Charleston’s most celebrated attractions. Perfect for a family affair, rainy or cold day, weekend, or private event, the Aquarium is offers visitors and locals alike the ability to explore local aquatic wildlife, as well as rare and international species.
Below is a look at each of the exhibits currently open at the South Carolina Aquarium:
Madagascar Journey: As the Aquarium’s newest exhibit, Madagascar Journey transports visitors to one of the earth’s most fascinating islands: Madagascar. All of the species found in the Madagascar Journey exhibit are endemic to Madagascar and cannot be found naturally anywhere else on earth. Some of the creatures you’ll witness at the Madagascar exhibit include ring-tailed lemurs, Madagascar hissing cockroaches, a Nile crocodile, a panther chameleon, tomato frogs, vasa parrots, and more.
Below are some pictures from the Madagascar journey exhibit:
See the tomato frog in the picture above?
Mountain Forest: One of the most popular exhibits at the Aquarium, the Mountain Forest is a semi-outdoor area that features species from natural mountainous habitats in South Carolina. Here, visitors can observe freshwater trout, a variety of bird species, and (my absolute favorite!) river otters! Depending on the time of day you come to the Aquarium, you might see the otters playing in the water or snuggling up to one another in their little house (which is more like a pipe).
Piedmont: The Piedmont exhibit showcases fish and other critters commonly found in the streams and rivers of South Carolina. The area also has an area where visitors can learn about South Carolina during prehistoric times, as well as look at exoskeletons, megalodon shark teeth (which can be found in the waters of South Carolina), and more!
Coastal Plains: Connected to the Piedmont exhibit, the Coastal Plains area is where the South Carolina Aquarium showcases its famous albino alligator, named Alabaster. The area also contains a variety of fish, amphibians, and plants that can be found along South Carolina’s coast and throughout its freshwater marsh and swamp areas. There is also a section within this exhibit that contains venomous snakes found in South Carolina, including an Eastern diamondback snake and copperhead snake.
Saltmarsh aviary: Another semi-outdoor area, the Saltmarsh aviary boasts stunning views of Charleston harbor (you can even see the Schooner Pride at its dock from here!), coastal birds—including herons and pelicans—pufferfish, blue crabs, diamondback terrapin, and dozens of stingrays.
Coast: The Coast exhibit features a wide spectrum of aquatic creatures, including seahorses, sea turtles, flounder, stingrays, lobster, crabs, shrimp, and more. All of the critters featured in this exhibit can be found right off the coast of South Carolina.
Ocean: As one of the most enchanting exhibits, the Ocean gallery offers visitors a deep insight into the fascinating beauty of the vast ocean. The main attraction in this exhibit is the 385,000 gallon Great Ocean Tank, which houses a wide array of aquatic animals, including a loggerhead sea turtle, reef fish, sandtiger sharks, black tip reef sharks, eels, red drum, barracuda, bass, and more! In tanks surrounding the Great Ocean Tank, guests can observe dog chain fish (which is a species of shark), black sea bass, eels, scorpion fish, moon jellyfish, and more.
In addition to the exhibits spotlighted above, the South Carolina Aquarium also features a Touch Tank area, a 4-D theater, and the famous Sea Turtle Hospital (which I HIGHLY recommend visiting!!).