How the Georgia Aquarium Works

Education and the 4R Program
Children investigate aquatic life in the Learning Loop.
Children investigate aquatic life in the Learning Loop.
Photo courtesy Georgia Aquarium

It's hard to miss the educational focus when you visit the aquarium. Every exhibit has signs or touch screens with information about its inhabitants. The aquarium also has education stations to offer additional information to the public. Touch tanks, staffed with employees and volunteers, give people the chance to touch and interact with the aquarium's animals. In several areas, projectors display information about the animals along walls and floors. The aquarium also offers behind-the-scenes tours in which visitors can see how the aquarium feeds and cares for fish.

But, beyond the visitor areas, 25 percent of the aquarium is devoted to research and education. The Learning Loop, a space with learning labs and hands-on activities for students in different age groups, comprises an entire floor. The Learning Loop also offers summer professional development classes for teachers. All educational programs take place in the Learning Loop, separate from aquarium visitors. Officials estimate that 70,000 students will participate in programs there every year.

A beluga whale in the 800,000 gallon whale habitat. Beluga whales live exclusively in arctic and sub-arctic waters, so the water in their tank is always 55° F/13° c. Click here to watch a video of the whales swimming in their tank.

The aquarium's 4R program is another avenue for research, conservation and improving fish life in captivity and in the wild. The four Rs are rehabilitation, relocation, rescue and research. Donations to the program support actions like the rescue of Nico and Gasper and their relocation to Georgia. In that case, three donors pledged $50,000 each, contingent upon a dollar-for-dollar match from the community, to rescue and relocate the animals.