Swim With The Gentle Giants
After reading the article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, I knew that “Journey with the Gentle Giants” was something I had to do. The gentle giants are the Whale Sharks in the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta.
Whale Sharks are the largest fish known to man, and are in captivity, aside from Asia, only in the football field size tank at the Georgia Aquarium. Although they grow to as much as forty feet long and are physically imposing, they are not a threat to humans. While they have a huge mouth and hundreds of teeth, their esophagus is only about an inch in diameter and they much prefer plankton.
But whale sharks were not the only specimen in the tank. There were Hammerhead Sharks, Black Tip Sharks, Sand Sharks, and several other members of the shark family. Manna Rays, Sting Rays and other ominous looking sea creatures were swimming all around you along with thousands of other ocean fish, all minding their own business.
There is nowhere else that you can see so many different types of aquatic life while snorkeling. In the ocean, the fish scurry away when they see man invade their space, but at the aquarium, they are used to it. Fish lazily swim by in schools, or the daring might swim up to you for a close inspection, and then dart away.
The highlight for me was toward the end of the swim when, Trixie, the largest of the whale sharks floated head-on directly at me. It was like a funky beige speckled VW bus rolling toward me. Its eyes where about 4 feet apart like headlights, and its mouth looked like the front bumper. Just as it got with 2-3 feet of me, it gracefully slid down and swam under me. I am sure it was chuckling to itself, knowing it had just given me a thrill of a lifetime.
The Georgia Aquarium does a great job with this program. It is educational and you get a behind the scenes view of how the aquarium is maintained. Visitors can go along, watch, and also get an informative behind the scenes tour.
Plan ahead, there are only 6 people per swim, and it books up weeks in advance!!! Cost is $190 per person, but everything is supplied except a swimsuit.
Checkout: Georgia Aquarium