What's happening at the Maritime Aquarium in May 2013.

May at the Maritime Aquarium


May 25 – Sept. 2

Free with Aquarium Admission; Small fee for nectar cups

Step into a lush aviary to share a laugh and a squawk with beautiful tropical birds that will sip food right out of your hands in “Lorikeets,” a special summer exhibit at The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk. The exhibit will feature about a dozen varieties of lorikeets, which are colorful medium-sized parrots native to the south Pacific (SE Asia, eastern Australia, Polynesia). They’re naturally found in rainforests and woodlands, but also in wooded urban areas, where they primarily feed on the nectars of various blossoms and fruits. “But in The Maritime Aquarium exhibit, our visitors will provide the nectar,” said Judith Bacal, the Aquarium’s exhibits director. “You can purchase a small cup of nectar before you go into the exhibit, and the lorikeets will land on your hand, or your arm, or even your head to get to your nectar. We like to say you can ‘Get Close’ at The Maritime Aquarium. Well, you can’t get closer than having a bird on your shoulder.” Lorikeets are specially adapted to their sweet diet through their specialized tongue. Tiny hair-like appendages called papillae form a U shape on the end of the tongue. When the tongue is extended, these papillae stand up like bristles on a brush, expanding the tongue’s surface area and allowing the birds to easily soak up nectar. Unique to lorikeets, these papillae have earned the birds the nickname “brush-tongued parrots.

Jean-Michael Cousteau

Monday May 20 at 8 p.m.

$35 per ticket ($30 for Aquarium members)

Since first being “thrown overboard” by his father at the age of 7 with newly invented SCUBA gear on his back, Jean-Michel Cousteau has been exploring the ocean realm. But that realm has changed drastically since his first plunge in the 1940s. Cousteau will share his experiences – and his call for action on behalf of the marine world – in a special appearance at The Maritime Aquarium. The son of ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, Jean-Michel has investigated the world’s oceans aboard the Cousteau Society’s research vessels Calypso and Alcyone for much of his life. Honoring his family heritage, Cousteau founded Ocean Futures Society in 1999 to carry on this pioneering work. The non-profit marine conservation and education organization serves as a “Voice for the Ocean” by communicating the critical bond between people and the sea and the importance of wise environmental policy. As Ocean Future’s spokesman, Cousteau serves as an impassioned diplomat for the environment. He has produced more than 80 films, received Emmy and Peabody awards, and is presenter of the IMAX movie “Sharks,” now playing in the Aquarium’s IMAX Theater. Cousteau continues to produce environmentally oriented adventure programs and television specials, multi-media programs for schools, books, magazine articles, newspaper columns, and public lectures. As board chairman and president of the Ocean Futures Society, he is dedicated to educating young people, documenting stories of change and hope, and lending his reputation and support to energize alliances for positive change. The event is made possible in part by J.P. Morgan. Reserve tickets in advance or get more information at www.maritimeaquarium.org or (203) 852-0700, ext. 2206.

“N.Y. Comics – Live!”

Saturday May 11 at 8 p.m.

$15 per ticket ($13 for Aquarium members)

Robert Dean headlines a fun night of laughs in a special stand-up comedy show in The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk’s IMAX Theater. Dean, a Bridgeport native who is now a fixture in New York City clubs, will bring three other New York-based comedians up to the Connecticut ’burbs to share their unique takes on life. (Dean: “My favorite place in the world to go to is the planetarium. I love it because I love to go into a room and watch groups of children be told how insignificant they are.”) Dean has been featured at Caroline’s on Broadway, the Bridgetown Comedy Festival and the Laughing Skull Festival, and nightly at some of the best comedy clubs and venues across the country. He currently runs a popular weekly show in Brooklyn. Check him out at www.therobertdean.com. Reserve your tickets for this adults-night-out in advance at www.maritimeaquarium.org or (203) 852-0700, ext. 2206.

IMAX® Movies

Connecticut’s largest IMAX theater, with a screen that’s six stories high and eight stories wide.  Confirm the movie schedule before visiting by calling or going online.

Daily through June 20:

"The Last Reef: Cities Beneath the Sea”    

Call or go online for IMAX show times.

This stunning film explores our connection with the complex ocean world, revealing a habitat more diverse, colorful and resilient than you have ever imagined. We think of coral reefs as exotic, distant places with little or no connection to our everyday world. Yet every reef is a living city beneath the sea, with a parallel existence to ours, distant yet connected. (Maritime Aquarium audiences will recognize scenes from New York City as the film compares reef communities to human communities.) The film’s stunning imagery immerses audiences in reef communities, among familiar dolphins, sharks and rays but also lesser-known species, such as crocodile fish, colorful nudibranchs and delicate flatworms. As reefs face the threat of extinction, this uplifting film will inspire viewers with a vision of reefs’ incredible power to rebuild. “The Last Reef” was filmed on locations as diverse as Palau, the Bahamas, French Polynesia, New York and northern Italy, and additionally in Mexico among the haunting underwater sculptures of British artist Jason deCaires Taylor.


Call or go online for IMAX show times.

Come face-to-face with sharks, including great whites, hammerheads and whale sharks, all large as life on the giant IMAX screen in this dazzling film presented by Jean-Michel Cousteau. “Sharks” offers an unflinching look at the oceans’ ultimate predator – with an emphasis on why shark populations are dropping. But it’s presented in a way that’s perfect for even the youngest viewers. (A sea turtle with a British accent narrates.) This IMAX film will be a perfect companion to the Aquarium’s new Sharks & Rays gallery, with its “Shark & Ray Touch Pool.”

“Born to Be Wild”

Call or go online for IMAX show times.

This inspiring film follows orphaned baby orangutans and elephants, and the extraordinary people who rescue and raise them for eventual release back into the wild. This heartwarming adventure transports audiences into the lush rain forests of Borneo with world-renowned primatologist Dr. Biruté Mary Galdikas, and across the rugged Kenyan savannah with celebrated elephant authority Dame Daphne Sheldrick, as they and their teams rescue, rehabilitate and return these incredible animals back to the wild. It’s narrated by Academy-Award® winner Morgan Freeman.

Behind-the-Scenes Tour

Saturday May 18 at 8:15 a.m.

$25 per ticket ($22.50 for Aquarium members)

The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk opens its backstage spaces for a rare behind-the-scenes tour. Conducted before the Aquarium opens, from 8:15 to 10 a.m., the guided tour offers unique opportunities to see how the animal-husbandry staff meets the varying food and water needs of some 2,000 resident animals. The tour includes stops at the Aquarium’s “fish kitchen,” where eighteen tons of fish a year is prepared, and above the 110,000-gallon Open Ocean tank, where the dorsal fins of eight-foot sand tiger sharks cut through the water surface. Learn the delicate requirements of a jellyfish “nursery.” Participants must be at least ten years old; under fifteen must be accompanied by an adult. The tour is limited to 25 people, so reservations are strongly recommended. Walk-up tickets will be sold, space permitting. For reservations or more details, call (203) 852-0700, ext. 2206.

Marine Life Study Cruises

April 27 – June 29 Saturdays at 1 p.m.; July – August daily at 1 p.m.

$20.50 per ticket ($18.50 for Aquarium members)

Cruise out for close encounters with crabs, fish, lobsters and always a few surprises when you come aboard the research vessel Oceanic for The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk’s new season of Marine Life Study Cruises. These exciting outings reveal what is, to many, a surprising diversity of marine life just off our shores in Long Island Sound. Aquarium educators put participants to work in collecting and examining animals from all levels of the water column: tiny wriggly plankton gathered at the surface (and viewed with a videomicroscope), little crabs and worms grabbed from the muddy bottom, and an always-unique variety of fish, crabs, lobsters and surprises brought up in the Oceanic’s trawl net. Starting April 27, Marine Life Study Cruises will occur at 1 p.m. Saturdays through June 29. Beginning July 1, they’ll depart at 1 p.m. daily through August. Weekday chartered cruises are available for school groups on field trips. Maritime Aquarium Study Cruises are best for ages 8 and older. Space on the Oceanic is limited so advance reservations are strongly recommended.  Walk-up tickets will be sold, space permitting. The cruises depart from the dock outside the Aquarium’s IMAX movie theater. Purchase tickets or get more details at www.maritimeaquarium.org or (203) 852-0700, ext. 2206.

Special Exhibits


Special exhibit open daily

Free with Aquarium admission

A family of meerkats, one of Africa’s most entertaining species, burrows into visitors’ hearts in this special exhibit at The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk. First popularized by the comical sidekick Timon in Disney’s “The Lion King,” and then celebrated in the Animal Planet television series “Meerkat Manor” (2005-2009), meerkats are members of the mongoose family that live in social “mobs” in the Kalahari Desert, in the southern African nations of Botswana and South Africa. Meerkats (Suricata suricatta) are fascinating for living in structured but cooperative societies, including a foraging strategy where adults take turns standing guard upright on their hind feet, watching for predators, while the others eat. The meerkats’ exhibit offers lots of opportunities for climbing, digging and exploring, with several feeding locations to keep them always on the alert for incoming crickets. And a viewing bubble lets visitors pop up right among the meerkats.

“Africa: From the Desert to the Sea”

Special exhibit open daily

Free with Aquarium admission.

Explore the aquatic wonders of Africa and discover how the continent’s fish – though much different from those in Long Island Sound – face similar environmental challenges. See amazing fish from the Nile River, the lakes of Africa’s Great Rift Valley and the Red Sea. Species highlighted include exotic air-breathing lungfish that can survive for a year if their waterhole goes dry, and electric catfish that use bioelectric radar to sense surroundings and zap their food in a dark and murky habitat. Colorful cichlids and coral reef species shine in shimmering rainbows.

Toy Boat-Making Workshop

11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays & Sundays

$5 per child (plus Aquarium admission)

Visit the toy boat-making area on weekends for a fun 20-minute boat-building project. Build and decorate a toy sailboat to take home as a special keepsake of your visit. 

Trainings for Horseshoe-Crab Tagging

Wed., May 8 and Sun., May 12, both at 7 p.m.

It may not be Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr, but the spring moons soon will be drawing male and female horseshoe crabs up onto our beaches for an annual mating ritual. Staff from The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk will be on hand to greet them. But your help is needed. The Maritime Aquarium is seeking volunteers to help attach census tags to horseshoe crabs as the crabs come up out of the water to spawn at Calf Pasture Beach.  It’s all part of a census of horseshoe crabs in Long Island Sound, being led by Dr. Jennifer Mattei of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield. The Maritime Aquarium is assisting with the census and tagging. Dr. Mattei’s census is establishing a baseline crab population and will reveal horseshoe crab migrations and any changes in numbers or behaviors. The data is needed because horseshoe crab eggs are an important food source for migrating shorebirds. If the horseshoe crab population declined, that could mean fewer birds on our coastline. Horseshoe crabs come up onto beaches on the nights of the full and new moons. That’s a tagging bonanza time for researchers, so extra volunteers are needed to help. To participate, volunteers should attend one of two training sessions at the Aquarium: at 7 p.m. on either Wed., May 8 or Sun., May 12. They’ll learn about the natural history of horseshoe crabs, what has been learned so far from the census work, and how to safely tag horseshoe crabs. Volunteers should be in 10th grade or older. Younger children can assist if working with a parent, teacher or guardian. Tagging sessions at Calf Pasture will be held on selected mornings and evenings later in the month of May and also in June. To sign up or for more details about the training sessions, call The Maritime Aquarium at (203) 852-0700, ext. 2352, or e-mail jschnierlein@maritimeaquarium.org.

The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk

10 N. Water Street, Norwalk, CT; (203) 852-0700, www.MaritimeAquarium.org

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

The only Aquarium focused on Long Island Sound presents sharks, seals, river otters, sea turtles, jellyfish and more than 100 other species from Long Island Sound and its watershed. Two staffed touch tanks allow hands-on close encounters with intertidal animals and a chance to touch live sharks and rays. “Go Fish!” explores our cultural relationship with the sea through fishing and the sustainable seafood movement. “Ocean Playspace” offers fun for toddlers and a rest for big people. Marine Lab shows visitors how we care for marine animals, including raising baby seahorses and jellies. IMAX® theater offers the largest movie screen in Connecticut. And, on weekends (daily in July & August), come aboard for exciting hands-on study cruises out onto the Sound aboard the research vessel Oceanic.


Call (203) 852-0700 or go online to www.maritimeaquarium.org.


Aquarium only:  $19.95 for adults; $17.95 for both youths (13-17) and seniors (65+); and $12.95 for children 3-12. Members and kids 2 & under, free.

Discount Combo tickets (Aquarium + IMAX movie):  $24.95 for adults; $22.95 for both youths (13-17) and seniors (65+); and $17.95 children for 3-12.

IMAX movie:  $9.50;  $7 for kids 2-12.  Members save $2.

Hollywood IMAX movies:  $11.50;  $9.50 for kids 2-12.   Members save $1.

The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit institution whose mission is to inspire people of all ages to appreciate Long Island Sound and protect it for future generations. A vibrant and entertaining learning environment, it achieves this goal through living exhibits, marine science, and environmental education.

The Maritime Aquarium receives support from the State of Connecticut DECD’s Offices of Culture and Tourism.

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