Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Sleep Overnight with the Fishies at Adventure Aquarium & Center for Aquatic Sciences' Shark in the Dark

Stingrays glide past me languidly. A large loggerhead sea turtle, Bob, eyes me up before swimming to the surface. A family of seahorses wrap their tails around each other and blink at me. It's just another Friday night. A night- at New Jersey's Adventure Aquarium- for the Shark in the Dark sleepover! The aquarium works with the Center for Aquatic Sciences at Adventure Aquarium to offer this event. 

The Shark in the Dark program brings in scout troops, schools groups and families to stay over at the aquarium, have the whole place to yourself for a few hours, then drift happily off to sleep with vision of sea life swimming in your heads! 

In the morning, you can wake to rested sea life, explore the aquarium and have breakfast. It's truly the most amazing experience. There just a few dates left in February and March so call now!

My group consisted of myself, my good friend Kristi and her awesome kids, Jack and Allison. We arrived in Camden an hour early and went across the stress to a brew pub for dinner. At 6pm, we checked into the aquarium and check in was a breeze. We dropped off our sleep gear in the cafe and off we went to explore- and we had the whole place to ourselves for an hour! All the sea creatures are just amazing, and they are building a new shark bridge to enhance attendees experiences.  We attended a dive show with the diver talking to us and answering questions with a special suit from INSIDE the tank- underwater!
Exploring the Aquarium! Photographs by K Lado. 

We then went to to behind the scenes tour and explored the touch tanks where some funky little shrimp enjoyed climbing on Allison - she is the Shrimp Whisperer! 

Jack enjoyed playing within the kid-friendly exhibits and seeing and touching all the cool sea creatures, especially the tiny sea life and observing the stingrays, frogs, and turtles.

A few other scout groups were there too and everyone was having a great time. After a snack, we explored some more within the shark tunnel, the new blue penguins, and the jellyfish. 

The children loved touching the stingrays and undersea life while getting a super-close view of the new exhibits and tiny fish. 

All too soon, it was time for bed. All attendees are asked to wear comfortable clothes to the event because those are the clothes we all slept in. It gets cold at night here, so I slept in leggings and a under amour shirt with wool socks and I was toasty all night long. 

I'm dreaming of seahorses!

Ready for bed!
Each group is assigned a sleeping area depending on the size of your group.
The four of us slept nestled under the largest tank, watching sharks, turtles, fish and stingrays glide above us bathed in blue-green water. Falling asleep, and waking up next to this amazing tank was awesome.

It's required to bring a sleeping bag and pillow, and I brought my air mattress and softest blanket. I slept so well! 

Per my usual routine, I awoke at 4:45am and just happily watched the sea life. At one point, Kristi awoke and we noticed one sea turtle (there's three- Bob ( a girl), Oreo (so tiny at one point- not anymore!), and Stitches) hovering just above our sleeping area.
Because the lights were turned off within the aquarium...we swore she was watching us!! So we happily waved back! She swam above us for a good 10 minutes before wandering off. 

I decided to get up and wander around a bit, then came back to bed to continue watching this majestic animals. It's really amazing to sleep next to these exhibits- there isn't a bad bed in the house- everyone sleeps near the exhibits with amazing views all night long. 

At 7:00am, we were awoken - Good Morning Aquatic Campers!- and we packed up and headed to breakfast. Again, I commend the staff here for being so professional and organized, which kept everyone else moving along smoothly.

We went looking for the outdoor penguins, but they weren't awake yet, visited the giant porcupine in the hippos area, and went back to say goodbye to our favorites- the sea turtles. We had the opportunity to move our car out of secured parking to the main lot and enjoy the day, but we had other things planned, so off we went!

Amazing night! Photographs by engchik.

The overnight also includes: 

    • Shark-themed Scavenger Hunt
    • Free exploration Time (including Touch Tanks)
    • Shark Talk
    • Behind the Scenes Tour
    • Sleeping throughout the Aquarium 
    • Gift shop and Penguin exhibit open in AM (weather dependent)
    • Morning visit to the African River Experience with the hippos
    • Light evening snack and Continental Breakfast 
    • Souvenir Patch

I urge anyone with kids (or go with your nephews, nieces, friends, or any other kids you can!) to this amazing Shark in the Dark. The opportunity to get up close with marine life, learn more about their habits and educate yourself our taking care of our oceans and earth is so exciting and so important. Save the oceans, educate yourself, and see this fantastic aquarium up close. 

Pre-registration is required. Please visit www.aquaticsciences.org, email overnights@aquaticsciences.org or call 856-361-1018 for available dates, more information or to register.
Time: 6:00 pm - 9:30 am
Cost: $65 per person (Friday Nights) $70 per person (Saturday Nights, starting January 2016)
Ages: 6 - 12

Thanks to the  Adventure Aquarium & Center for Aquatic Sciences staff!!

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