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The National Aquarium in Baltimore, located at the Baltimore Inner Harbor area, provides a home for over 10,000 aquatic animals in an exciting, educational, and a handicap accessible environment. Tickets are time-stamped, enabling you to visit some of the other inner-harbor sites while waiting for your turn to enter. This is very helpful if you are planning on taking children, as it eliminates waiting in long lines. For even more convenience, tickets can be purchased ahead of time via Ticketmaster.

Two evenings a year, the Aquarium is open to the mentally and physically challenged free of charge. For people who are hearing impaired, you can take advantage of the assistive listening devices, which work with the closed-loop transmitter, tied to the microphones of the volunteers. Volunteers who are trained in sign language are available. More information on special services available can be found at the Baltimore Aquarium’s web site.

The main building of the Aquarium consists of five levels, four of which are connected by gently sloping ramps, surrounded on both sides by windows into the world of the water-bound residents. At the lowest level, the sharks and deep-sea fish glide by, just a few feet away. Hands on exhibits help young and old understand the differences between different types of sea-life and the effects changes in the ecology has on their environment. A section of the facility is dedicated to the wide variety of wetlands found in the mid-Atlantic region, explaining how each ecosystem works, and how its residents have evolved to take advantage of the unique characteristics of that region. At the uppermost level, an Amazon rainforest with free-flying birds provides a unique chance to learn how the environment above the water can impact underwater life. The rainforest is part of the three-sided glass top to the main building, which allows visitors to see the inner-harbor area, and which reduces heating costs by taking advantage of solar heating.

The second building houses the porpoise exhibit, with entertaining shows at regular intervals during the day.

The best time to visit the Aquarium is before 11:00 a.m. Please check their web site for operating hours before you plan your visit.