100 Mile Museum: Woods Hole Science Aquarium
By: Joanne Briana-Gartner, August 24, 2012
JOANNE BRIANA-GARTNER - Why go to Boston? The Woods Hole Science Aquarium features over 140 marine species found in Northeast and Mid-Atlantic waters, including basking sharks!
Some day, I'm going to take my kids to the Mystic Aquarium—because I really want to see that beluga whale and sing him some Raffi. And after that it's on to the Big Aquarium, the one in Tennessee.
But for the time being we'll all have to settle for the one that’s closer to home, Woods Hole Science Aquarium.
The funny thing is though— we're not settling. My kids routinely ask to go to there, and since it's free (unless you count paying the parking meters in Woods Hole), I'm happy to oblige.
Located at the end of Water Street, the aquarium is small enough that you can become familiar with some of its long-time residents. So much so that you can beeline it for the toad fish, cutely hunkered down in individual ceramic pipes, say hello to the aquarium's resident blue lobster, or see if any of the chain dogfish eggs have hatched recently.
Aquarium tanks line the right side of the wall downstairs while related displays line the left. Check out the rows of teeth in the jaw of a dusky shark, spin a ship's wheel or pose for a photo as captain, and compare yourself in size to the carapace of the leatherback turtle.
Aquarium residents include cold-water fish common to the Cape—stripers, flounder, groupers—as well as some of our tropical summer visitors.
If you go...
Woods Hole Science Aquarium
166 Water Street
Call (508) 495-2001 or visit the aquarium online for more information
Open 7 days a week, 11 AM - 4 PM, through Sunday, September 2
Seal feedings: 11 AM and 4 PM
Closed all federal holidays
Yes, we have fish tourists in addition to the human variety. Makes you wonder if the local fish sit around complaining about them and giving them bum directions to algae hot spots?
Touch n' learn
The downstairs aquarium tanks can be viewed from the top once visitors are upstairs. The upstairs provides a behind-the-scenes look at aquarium operations and visitors are encouraged to talk with staff and ask questions.
And what's up with the touch tank that kids can't get enough of? My kids live a mile from the beach—they can touch spider crabs any time they want—and yet they cluster around the aquarium's tank like they've never seen salt water.
Plan your visit around 11 AM or 4 PM if you want to see the seals get fed in their outdoor tank. Did you know seals are more closely related to dogs and cats than to whales or porpoises? No wonder we think they are cute enough to bring home.
One cool display was an example of a marine acoustic recording unit that played back underwater sounds by seals, walrus, whales, dolphins and other marine life. The hydrophone recordings also included one that hasn't been identified yet. It was labeled "mystery sound" on the interactive touch screen.
The Kraken or ‘Nessie, perhaps?