Panthers dive into an unforgettable night at the Georgia Aquarium

Photo by Autumn Boekeloo

Swimming, splashing, salt water, oh my! The Georgia State Panthers took a night off from the strenuous deadlines and anxieties of midterm week to enjoy an inexpensive evening at the Georgia Aquarium for Panthers Under the Sea.

The Georgia Aquarium closed to the general public at 5 p.m. on Friday for the arrival of Georgia State students, friends, family, faculty, and alumni. The doors opened at 6 p.m. for a night full of hands-on activities, aquatic shows, and entertainment for all guests.

Photo by Autumn Boekeloo

Nothing fishy about this deal!

Students purchased reduced price tickets online through the Spotlight Programs Board on the Georgia State website prior to attending, which made the flow to enter the facility organized and simple. Tickets for Atlanta students were $11, while Perimeter students, faculty, and guests could purchase tickets for $15 each. Each purchase required a $3 fee, which is a small price to pay regarding the daily standard prices. Everyday pricing starts at $31.95 plus tax, so taking advantage of this deal was essential for students living on a tight budget.

The Full Georgia Aquarium Experience, Panther style

It was clear when the night began that Georgia State had arrived and was ready to make the evening unforgettable. An ocean-themed Snapchat geo-filter that read “Panthers Under the Sea” appeared ideal for the event, surprising and amusing Snapchat users. Pounce, the Georgia State Mascot, welcomed guests and posed for pictures in the main lobby. After a quick picture or a high-five with Pounce, visitors fanned out into the seven galleries to endure on their night-long aquatic adventure. Guests gathered together to view the array of animals the aquarium offered in the five wildlife galleries. A crowd favorite were the penguins and sea otters located in the Cold Water Quest area, and of course the dolphin show impressed attendees at the AT&T Dolphin Tales gallery. However, a sea of mumbles and groans filled the lobby outside of the dolphin show when the Georgia Aquarium staff closed the doors approximately at 7:30 p.m. not allowing anyone else to enter after that time. Guests who were running late to the show appeared disappointed and headed back to the common area to find an alternate activity.

Photo by Autumn Boekeloo

It does not take a Bio-Brainiac

Luckily, if guests did not make it to the dolphin show, or simply wanted a crash-course on biology, the Georgia State Bio-Bus offered hands-on experiments for attendees. Guests of all ages were taught about DNA through the use of slides, while others learned about “Oobleck,” a non-Newtonian substance. No prior knowledge of biology was needed to complete the trials and demonstrated science in real life scenario rather than sitting in a lecture hall.

“If you don’t have any background in science this is a simpler way of understanding,” Ugo Kaou, a Bio-Bus Fellow said. “This way you don’t have to take an entire semester to learn.”

Slime Time and Painting Professionals

The aquarium also offered options to interact with certain animals. Guests were taught how to properly touch the wildlife and had the opportunity to feel the bumpy exterior of starfish, or the slimy texture of aquatic plants. Leaving the Tropical Diver gallery, guests exited straight to a table dedicated to face painting and glitter tattoos. Nancy Peterson, an Atlanta-based face painter, had a variety of underwater inspired looks for guests to select from.

Photo by Autumn Boekeloo

Sit Back and Enjoy the View

After a long night of activities, The Ocean Voyager gallery was a relaxing choice for attendees. The moving sidewalk through the gallery made it simple for guests to enjoy the animals swimming above and beside them in the 180-degree tank. The setting of the gallery was calm and quiet as visitors observed the fish and arrived at their next stop, the tank wall exhibit. The tank, at 63 feet high, held over 80 species and left viewers in awe. Children sat in front of the tank smiling cheek-to-cheek while parents took memorable pictures, couples embraced, and friends took selfies together in front of the tank before leaving the gallery.

A Night to Remember

Lines began forming at the gift shop around 9p.m.; an hour before the end of Panthers Under the Sea. Plushies, t-shirts, snow globes, and other Georgia Aquarium memorabilia was purchased by guests. One of the most popular purchases among students was an inexpensive $10 beluga whale stuffed animal wearing a Georgia Aquarium hoodie.

As students, family, faculty, and friends exited the facility a hum of cheerfulness filled the warm Atlanta air. “The whole atmosphere in the aquarium was so friendly. Everyone I talked to was so excited and I loved that there was activities,” attendee Tara Anastasoff said. Guests took photos outside the aquarium and admired the gorgeous view of Downtown Atlanta at nighttime. Panthers Under the Sea 2017 was overall a successful night, and left guests eager to dive back into the experience next year.