Looking back: 30 years at the National Aquarium

Today is our 30th anniversary! Over the past three decades, many memories have been made at the National Aquarium, Baltimore, from surprise marriage proposals to unforgettable family trips. We asked Aquarium Members and our Facebook fans to share their fondest Aquarium memories. A collection of those stories appears below. Thank you to everyone who contributed!

Jen Badosky:
I was first there 22 years ago for a class field trip, I always wanted to go back, so this passed February my husband and I brought our 4 kids, almost everyday since then they ask us when are we going back.

Meredith Barton Bohannon of MD:
My husband and I had our second official date there in 2005. I think he started to understand what he was getting himself into when I stood staring down into the coral reef exhibit for 20+ minutes.

Marcia Bourne of Towson, MD:
One of the most amazing places in Baltimore, I’ve always loved visiting and not too long ago by boyfriend asked me to marry him while we were walking through Australia! The National Aquarium really holds a special place in my heart now! ♥

Jellyfish

Photo Courtesy Christine Goff Campbell

Christine Goff Campbell:
Visiting the National Aquarium in Baltimore is an annual tradition in our family. We come each year to celebrate our daughter’s birthday. She turned six this year and we visited the Aquarium on June 30th. She loves it so much that we may have to start visiting more than once per year! I first visited the Aquarium on a 6th grade class trip…27 years ago! I’ve been visiting ever since. My husband and I visited the aquarium together before we married and then returned on our first wedding anniversary. Since then our visits have included our daughter. Her favorites are the dolphins and jellyfish.

Kudos to your volunteers and staff for being so knowledgeable and informative as we make our way through all of the wonderful and fascinating exhibits!

Becky Cornforth:
Our first time was around the time our son was 3. We lived east of Baltimore at the time and would make monthly trips to enjoy all the tanks, rain forest and the dolphin show. He loved going to the Aquarium and really enjoyed the escalators! lol Sadly, the military had us move to duty stations too far away to go back until just a few months ago. I can’t wait to return, with or without him (he’s 17 now).

Photo Courtesy Tonya Crago

Tonya Crago of Ulm, Montana:
I lived in Maryland until 10 years ago. As a child we had a family membership to the Aquarium and I remember asking my mom if that meant I got to live there since I owned part of it. When I was really little I had to go to a heart specialist in the city and that was the highlight of my trip. I got to go at least once a month to visit all of my water friends. I could not wait to share this memory with my children. We were just back in Maryland for a visit and got to take our 3 girls to the Aquarium. We enjoyed feeding time in the ray tank and a dolphin show. They were sooo excited we got to see the babies just before they passed. Thanks for the memories.

Photo Courtesy Shaunak Das

Shaunak Das of India:
It was 23rd December, 2010. We (me, my father & brother) visited National Aquarium around 10am. Thanks to the extreme chill weather. This helped us extra thrilling experience during visit. It was a memorable tour also it came in my first foreign visit. Really I felt an aquatic environment and still miss the environment now a days. I wish I shall again visit USA in future and of course at national aquarium in Baltimore. :)

Amanda Harris:
My son was 4 months old on his first trip to the aquarium. Watching his laughs and pointing to colorful fish swimming by, I just KNEW we were not only helping him learn, but that he was having the time of his life! We come back ever year. Now, at age 3, he wants to “swim in the big ocean with fishes” when he grows up. We got a book about marine biology from the library and now he’s set on it and can’t wait to go back to the aquarium again!

Jessica Hatch of Hagerstown, MD:
My family visited the aquarium throughout my growing up. When I turned 18, I went for the first time with just my best friend and cried at the dolphin show. I have always loved visiting the Baltimore Aquarium and look forward to every chance I get to visit.

Adriana Hernandez:
When I was 7 years old, my brother took me to my very first trip into Baltimore City at the Inner Harbor. I had lived there for years but I was still young and didn’t know much. The National Aquarium of Baltimore was the first place he took me too. I fell in love with all the fish. My favorite part, and still is to this day 15 years later, is the blue bubble blowers in the front where you come in. I had the golden opportunity to take my one year old to Baltimore for the first time, and that is where I took him to make his first memory of Baltimore.

Thank you National Aquarium of Baltimore for all the memories I have of you. I plan on making a trip soon with my family.

Danita Jackson of Newport News, VA:
I have always had a deep love for dolphins. I was 19 my first trip to see yall. at the dolphin show…i cried.

Lauren Kashan:
Gave me the best summer of my life interning with the rainforest reptiles and amphibians last summer. Can’t wait to be rejoining you for a second internship this fall working with your Australia reptiles!

Thomas Kursey Jr:
I remember coming to the Baltimore Aquarium, I brought my mom, my sister and her 2 children. The kids were only 5 at the time, so that would make it in 1987. But as we were looking at all the small aquariums of fish we ran upon some really bright yellow fish. My sister said, ” Oh, those fish are not that color in the sea, they painted them!”

Jennifer Luckart of Baltimore, MD:
I went on a group play date to the Aquarium with a bunch of moms when my oldest was around 4. They kind of sped through the entire place, so when they all left, I went back with my son and went through at our own pace. It was pretty empty at the time (around 2 pm on a weekday) so I just followed him around on his exploration. We wound up sitting on the floor in the round ramp area watching the fish swim past for about a half an hour. He was so entranced, and since the tank stretches there from floor to ceiling, it felt like we were under water with them.

Now my other son who I have now, who is currently 4, has always been fascinated with the sharks at the Aquarium. So much so, that at age 3 when you would ask him what he wants to be when he grows up he would answer “a shark.” Now when he grows up he wants to be a shark doctor. I asked him if he meant a doctor who helps sick sharks, to which he looked at me as if I had no sense, and said, “No mommy, a shark who is a doctor.” I am going to cry the day he realizes that when he grows up he has to remain a human.

Barbara McDaniel:
For my daughter’s 18th birthday we gave her a behind the scenes with the dolphins and trainers… This confirmed for her that she was truly in love with them and had a special bond to our friends the dolphins. It was a joy to see the smile on her face and for me to learn more about dolphins. She is in our last year at Coastal Carolina as a psych major; perhaps she will work with the dolphins at the Baltimore Aquarium someday.

Photo Courtesy Cathy Milanak

Cathy Milanak of PA:
I’ll never forget the year I took a picture of my daughter and in viewing the picture later, we noticed she was being kissed by an alligator.

Amanda Otey:
4 and a half years ago my (now husband) and I took our first vacation to the National Aquarium in Baltimore. He took me to see the dolphins and I wanted dearly to sit close to watch and he asked us to sit higher. Do you know what happened when it came time for the trainer to pick a volunteer? She picked the gentleman who sat where I had originally chosen to sit! I still pick on my husband to this day about that!!

Donald Perry:
Sheer joy, when we first took our daughter there for the first time. She wasn’t talking at the time cause she was so young but she kept signing more, more, more. We have been members ever since that visit. Awesome place.

Photo Courtesy TJ Snyder of Smithsburg, MD (taken on Aug. 8, 2008)

Marisa Seubert:
We were long time members of the Aquarium for several years while we were living in Baltimore. I remember numerous visits of taking our toddler daughter to visit the “fishies.” We would make a point of staying for most of the day. We had our own “secret” parking space over where Victor’s Cafe was. At that time, parking was 25 cents an hour on those meters! My daughter’s favorite exhibit was the Dolphin Show and the close-up encounter at the touching table. I have several photos of her and I sitting in the “Splash Zone” bleachers for a chance to get soaked! It did indeed happen on more than one occasion! Good times. Then, we would eat lunch in the old cafeteria which is now remodeled. We moved to PA in 2007 and we still put aside a weekend here and there to take our children back to the Aquarium! I have been pleased watching the changing exhibits and expansions ever since the orginal opening. We always enjoy our visits!

Rosa Vargas:
Visited with Husband had a wonderful time felt like a kids again. This year looking forward to bringing kids along shhhhh! they don’t know yet.

Thanks for all the wonderful memories. hope for many more in the next 30+yrs

1 Response to “Looking back: 30 years at the National Aquarium”


  1. 1 Robyn Larkin of Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands August 8, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    I remember standing in line at the flagpoles the summer the Aquarium opened up (I was 4 years old)…it was a memorable day and I got my wish to ‘see the fish.’ I also have fond memories of volunteering at the Aquarium as part of the High School Summer Volunteer Programme, interning with the Education Department, running the sea jelly auditorium shows (complete with wearing the sea jelly ‘hat’ to garner interest in the programme!) and taking from my experience with them a passion for sharing the wonders of the ocean with others. Thank you, NAIB, for sending me down a meaningful and rewarding career path! I hope to make it back again one day to my underwater ‘home’ in Baltimore!


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