New Sturgeon Touch Tank Experience Opens At Maritime Aquarium

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Arts & Entertainment New Sturgeon Touch Tank Experience Opens At Maritime Aquarium The Norwalk aquarium is now among the few aquariums in the country to offers guests a hands-on experience with these prehistoric creatures. Reply
An Atlantic sturgeon on display at the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk on Aug. 2, 2023, as part of the aquarium’s new sturgeon touch tank exhibit. (RJ Scofield/Patch Staff) Atlantic sturgeon on display at the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk on Aug. 2, 2023, as part of the aquarium’s new sturgeon touch tank exhibit. (RJ Scofield/Patch Staff) An Atlantic sturgeon on display at the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk on Aug. 2, 2023, as part of the aquarium’s new sturgeon touch tank exhibit. (RJ Scofield/Patch Staff) Educational signage posted next to the Maritime Aquarium’s new sturgeon touch tank exhibit on Aug. 2, 2023. (RJ Scofield/Patch Staff)
NORWALK, CT — A new exhibit at the Maritime Aquarium offers guests a hands-on experience with Atlantic sturgeon, creatures whose ancestors swam through the water before dinosaurs roamed the Earth.
“They’re prehistoric,” Aquarium Spokesperson Amy Diaz said to Patch. “They’re pretty unique and rare.” The new sturgeon touch tank, part of a larger salt march exhibit at the aquarium, gives guests a chance to have an up-close encounter with these unique animals.
The 32-foot, 7,000-gallon tank allows guests to place their hands in the water and feel the spiny, almost dinosaur-like backs of the sturgeon. “It’s pretty rare to have these touch tanks,” Diaz said. “There’s only a handful within the U.S. that do it and are [Association of Zoos and Aquariums]-accredited.”
Though the creatures currently on display may seem large already, Diaz said they can grow up to 14 feet long and live for up to 60 years. “They get much, much larger, so that’s why we had to have a tank that was big enough to fit what we have,” Diaz said. “It’s been pretty popular so far. We’ve had really great feedback.”
According to Diaz, Atlantic sturgeon typically breed, hatch and grow in rivers before moving to the ocean. Once abundant, these creatures were harmed by over-fishing, pollution and dams blocking river routes, leading to them being classified as an endangered species. There are currently conservation efforts being made on both federal and state levels to protect these animals, according to press materials provided by the aquarium.
Atlantic sturgeon have even recently been found in the Connecticut River, where they were previously thought to have disappeared from entirely, according to the aquarium. “Because it’s a local species, I think it’s important to have this exhibit here and then talk about the conservation efforts around it, because they are an endangered species,” Diaz said, “so to protect them and educate people.”
The exhibit officially opened to the public in mid-July after months of preparation and work, the aim of which is to offer guests of all ages a fun, hands-on experience that is also educational. “This was a very collaborative effort and involved everybody at the aquarium,” Diaz said, “so to just see it live is very exciting and seeing the looks on the kids’ faces touching the sturgeon, it’s a very exciting moment for us.” The sturgeon exhibit is one of four touch tanks at the Maritime Aquarium. Guests are also encouraged to interact with cownose rays, chain catsharks, moon jellies and a variety of crabs during their visits.

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