You can sleep with the sharks. You can that is, if sharks sleep. Do they? You may swim with or get kissed by a stingray. You can sleep with sharks or swim with stingrays if you are part of a group. Even if you are not a part of a group, you can visit a rainforest, shark lagoon, coral reef, or penguin playhouse–all at the Ripley Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. There is more to do at Gatlinburg than just seeing the majestic SmokyMountains and listening to country music shows.
In the tropical rainforest display there are more than 2,000 species of fish. You will see four-eyed fish, poison dart frogs, freshwater stingrays, cardinal tetras, armored catfish, and other rare types of fish.
The Ripley Aquarium of the Smokies has more than 10,000 exotic sea creatures, from more than 350 species. There are almost three times as many fish in the aquarium as there are people in Gatlinburg. If you visit, you will be hundreds of miles from the ocean, but the scenic beauty of the area and the water all around the area make this an appropriate place for the aquarium.
In the ocean display one can see corral reefs, which protect all types of marine life, the Pacific Giant Octopus, living corrals, weedy sea dragons, jellies, and sea anemones. Many plants that flow back and forth in the ocean are actually animals, not plants. Hammer corrals and the sun depend on the sun.
The most popular and largest exhibit in the Ripley Aquarium of the Smokies is the shark lagoon. You will see very large sharks, grunts, snappers, tarpons, squirrelfish, giant stingrays, sawfish, and a giant sea turtle. It will almost seem as if you are at the ocean and can touch the life in the water!
At the Indo-Pacific corral reef you will see all the bright colors of the rainbow. You will see fish from the tropical islands of the Pacific Ocean–thousands of them. So the natural environment would not be disturbed, the realistic reefs are actually all hand carved replicas. You can watch divers hand feed the fish during the day. You will see the Emperor Anglefish, which is known for color changes during growth. The Bluespine Unicornfish has a protrusion sticking out of its head that looks like a unicorn horn.
In the penguin playhouse you can see the colony of African Blackfooted Penguins as you crawl through underwater tunnels. You can see the penguins above and below the water and get beak to nose.
In stingray bay you can watch as divers feed these gentle creatures that are large and are related to sharks. Yo can even touch and get close to these creatures! You can see the Spotted Eagle Ray, the Southern Stingray, Bowmouth Guitarfish and others.
If you are part of an educational program with a group you might attend a dive show, late night activity, scavenger hunt, and doze off to sleep, while sharks are watching you.
Besides sleeping with the sharks, if you are part of a group, you might get a chance to swim with stingrays. Sleeping with sharks and swimming with stingrays are not a part of the normal activities, and such activities do cost more.
Regular admission prices, which include not only seeing all the marine life but also dive shows, marine science presentations, and the special exhibition hall, are $21.99 for adults, $10.99 for children 6-11, and $4.99 for children 2-5.
Reviews of the aquarium have generally been supportive.
“No trip to Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg is complete for my family without a trip to the aquarium,” MilitaryTravelers said on Tripadvisors.com “You will NOT be disappointed!”
Your Visit-Welcome Center,no author listed, Gatlinburg.ripleyaquariums.com
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, no author listed, Tripadvisor.com