ATLANTIC CITY - The Atlantic City Aquarium provided an abundance of adventurous activities on Dec. 29 as children gathered for storytime and aquarium feedings.
Upstairs preschoolers circled around education and event specialist Michelle Bay who read “Winter’s Tale,” a pop-up book written by Robert Sabuda. Then they colored winter-themed coloring sheets.
Meanwhile, older children crowded the Fish of the Mid-Altantic tank downstairs to watch the Live Diver Feeding Show. Diver and educator Brandi Lewis fed various species such as black drum, gray snapper and grouper that live off the coast of New Jersey and in the Mid-Atlantic region.
“Storytime gets our name out there and helps show what kind of educational programs we offer,” said Bay.
Storytime often features a line of books by author Suzanne Tate that are stories about local creatures.
Many visitors were from out-of-state and included the aquarium in their schedules while visiting family in the area. Jolynne Baker, 5, of Brooklyn, N.Y., visited the aquarium last summer and saw a baby stingray. She was eager to return this winter to discover how much it had grown.
Hazel Bender, 3, of Atlantic City is a frequent visitor at the aquarium because she lives just steps away. She attends almost every storytime and is an expert when it comes to visiting with the various species found inside. She calls it the “fish museum.”
“It’s a good way for her to get out and spend time with other kids,” said her father, Barry Bender, also of Atlantic City.
Storytime is free with aquarium admission. Before and after the story, children explore the aquarium where they find a variety of exhibits featuring cownose rays, moon jellies, moray eels, diamondback terrapin, a Loggerhead sea turtle, bearded dragon, iguana, Amazon tree boa and much more.
Several touch tanks give visitors the opportunity to get hands-on with marbled sharks, sting rays, spider crabs and other creatures. For $2 a cup, visitors can feed the stingrays during special feedings held daily at noon and 3 p.m.
Books by Suzanne Tate will be featured this month. The schedule is “Oozey Octopus A Tale of a Clever Critter” on Thursday; “Sammy Shrimp A Tale of a Little Shrimp,” on Jan. 14; Spiny Sea Star, A Tale of Seeing Stars on Jan. 21 and “Salty Seagull, A Tale of an Old Salt” on Jan. 28.
The Atlantic City Aquarium features more than 100 varieties of fish and marine animals. It’s open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and $5 for children ages 4-12. Children 3 and younger are admitted free. Call (609) 348-2880 or visit www.acaquarium.com