NEWPORT, Ky. — Do you dare to try to cross the bridge? That’s what visitors to the Newport Aquarium must ask themselves during their visit.
A rope suspension bridge is the only thing separating the brave visitor and a tank full of sharks swimming beneath them At times, the bridge sinks so they are walking inches above the two dozen sharks.
The bridge stretches across 75 feet of open water. The shark tank holds 385,000 gallons of water. There are four exotic shark rays, two stingrays and more than 300 fish in the display. Denver the loggerhead sea turtle also calls the tank home.
According to the aquarium’s website, it took 788 labor hours of fabrication, building and installation to make the shark bridge a reality. The bridge is constructed of more than 4 miles of rope and approximately 1.5 tons of steel.
Or if you don’t want to walk over the sharks, you can visit Shark Central, where visitors have the opportunity to pet a shark. Visitors are advised to use only two fingers and wait until the shark’s head is past them before they put their fingers into the pool to pet the shark.
Not brave enough for those? Then take a stroll through a 385,000 gallon shark tank which is home to rare scalloped hammerheads and many other types of sharks.
The Shark Ray Bay Theater allows visitors to interact with divers during the shows out the Shark Rays. At one of the largest acrylic windows of the aquarium, visits can watch the sharks as they swim around in the gigantic shark tank.
The aquarium is both a fun place to visit but it also provides a learning experience for children and adults. The Shore Gallery allows visitors to touch sea stars, anemones and urchins in a touch-pool.
Gator Alley is home to Mighty Mike, the biggest alligator outside of Florida and two rare white alligators. Mighty Mike is 14-feet long and weighs 800 pounds. Snowflake, one of the white alligators, weighs 85 pounds.
Frog Bog allows children to have fun with frogs and play in a frog-themed jungle gym. There are 20 species of frogs on display in the exhibit. There’s also hands-on fun for all visitors. Children can see secret frog tanks when they climb through the tunnels and tubes in the jungle gym. There’s a “Frogger” game with frog pads for children to jump on and 3-foot tall frog statues that sing.
Canyon Falls, which is new to the aquarium, is home to Asian otters and turtles. There are also two species of rare lizards in the display — the yellow monitor, which is from Indonesia, and the panther chameleon, which is a colorful lizard from Madagascar. Visitors can touch a turtle as it walks back and forth in its display.
The exhibit is also home to Thunder, a more than 100-year-old snapping turtle.
The Kroger Penguin Palooza is home to five species of penguins. The cold-weather exhibit allows the penguins to walk among the cliffs and swim down deep as children watch from the other side of the window.
There are two underwater tunnels — one for the shark display and the other for Amazon display and a coral reef.
The Amazon tunnel is a forest flooded with 117,000 gallons of fresh water. The 32-foot long tunnel allows visitors to see the Arapaima and the exotic Pacu along with many other species of freshwater fish.
The coral reef display is a continuation of the tunnel from the Amazon display. Here visitors will see Tangs, Unicorn fish and a Honeycomb Moray eel. The ClownnoseRays with its 2-foot wingspan glide through the water.
Bizarre and Beautiful is where you will find a female octopus, which is laying her eggs around her enclosure. Did you know that a female octopus can lay up to 100,000 eggs? If visitors look closely around her display, visits will see what looks like rice hanging from the rocks and foliage. The “rice” is actually the octopus’s eggs. After laying her eggs, the octopus will turn paler in color, stop eating and tend to her eggs until she dies. Her life cycle is called “senescence.”
Spider crabs will also be found here.
The Dangerous and Deadly display is home to the Stonefish, Lionfish, Piranha and other predators. There are snakes, lizards and freshwater stingrays on display.
The alien looking jellyfish can be found in the Jellyfish Gallery. More than 100 jellyfish are on display in eight tanks.
Sharkey’s Cafe along with a gift shop are also open each day.
Special events held during the day include the Penguin Parade, turtle touch, penguin exhibit care, Penguin Palooza shows, dive shows, shark ray training and feeding, shark tank feed, large shark feed, touch the sharks, tide pool touch and otter talk.
Other events, which are in addition to the cost of admission to the aquarium, include the backstage animal experience, penguin encounter and Ride the Duck.
Admission to the aquarium is $23 per person 13 and older; $15 for children 2-12. Children under the age of 2 are free. Military, AARP and company discounts are also available. Discount tickets are also available at Kroger.
During the summer, the aquarium is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. until Aug. 31. From Sept. 1 to May 31, hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Last entry time is one hour prior to closing.
The aquarium is located at One Aquarium Way, Newport, Kentucky. From the Shelby/Miami counties area, take Interstate 75 south to 50 East/I-471 South. Stay on 417 to exit 5 (Newport/Route 8). Turn left at the bottom of the exit ramp and follow signs and proceed to the Newport on the Levee parking garage.