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Jacqueline Monahan

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By Jacqueline Monahan

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Experience Creatures of Water, Earth, and Air at SeaQuest Interactive Aquarium Las Vegas

The Boulevard Mall on Maryland Parkway (east side of Las Vegas) may seem to be an unlikely location for otters, capybaras, sharks, toucans, lorikeets, and stingrays, but the reptiles, amphibians, mammals, and aves (birds) of SeaQuest Interactive Aquarium call it home.

Noah Birkland Meets A Bearded Dragon

Photo Credit: DeDee White

It’s got interactive in the title for a reason. You can touch just about any of the animals in the large, 31,000 square-foot, multi-ecosystem habitat. Feed them, hold them, perhaps even have one sit on your head. Well, maybe just the birds for that one; a starfish might prove a bit messy.

Global exhibits include Caribbean Cove, California Coast, Mayan Jungle, Amazon Rainforest, and Egyptian Desert, each with a selection of animals native to the region. You enter and exit through the gift shop, stocked with plush marine life toys and blingy sea turtle key chains. Admission and tokens (they are needed for animal food, the Animal Whisperer Tour, and the Virtual Reality experience) are handled at the counter before you are fitted with a brightly colored wristband on your left arm, good for an entire day’s admission.

45,000 Gallon Caribbean Cove Shark and Stingray Tank

Photo Credit:  Jacqueline Monahan

You then step into several different habitats and eco-systems, spanning five continents, and offering an up close and personal look at dozens of species from around the world. First up – the Small-Clawed Asian Otters, a pair so swift they seem like furry brown bullets streaking through the water of their pond, much too quick to capture on film. These are the smallest species of otter, only around 12 pounds full-grown. The “Otter Encounter” offered by SeaQuest allows you to feed them and “have an experience that will remind [you] why it is so important that we protect all endangered species,” according to David Nearhouse, SeaQuest Las Vegas General Manager.

Otter on Dry Land (rare)

Photo Credit:  Mike Monahan

The White-nosed Coatimundi habitat held two playful, curious animals. Related to the raccoon but with an ultra pointy snout for getting into your business, they were being fed by a caretaker and used the opportunity to climb up her side to nestle onto her shoulder. Pronouncing their names takes no less than five syllables. Don’t pronounce the first four letters as coat; it’s co-ah-tee-mun-dee. They’ll thank you with playful interest and enthusiasm.

Coatimundi Gets Personal

Photo Credit:  Mike Monahan

Across from this is a large tank filled with Black Pacu fish, startling to some for their resemblance to the flesh eating piranha of the Amazon. These guys won’t cost you an arm and a leg, though.

I Don't Bite!

Photo Credit: DeDee White

A central tank of brightly colored Discus fish catches the eye with their vibrant red, yellow, and orange hues. These fresh water fish summon a sense of fluid serenity as they float among foliage almost as ornamental as they are. Two other tanks feature stunning neon-colored jellyfish that puff about their tank in a graceful slow motion water ballet.

Discus Fish

Photo Credit: Jacqueline Monahan and DeDee White

Right around the corner, in the Egyptian Desert area, you’ll find Mr. Einstein, a giant Sulcata tortoise and SeaQuest’s mascot. He takes regularly escorted strolls through the gift shop and the outer perimeter of the venue. Talk about an impressive ambassador. Mr. Einstein can probably be credited for more than a bit of ticket sales on days when he’s out and about. Geckos and Bearded Dragons are available for holding/petting, and feel like the smooth or textured exterior of fine wallets. There’s no slimy surface to them or any of the variety of snakes that you may be coaxed or tempted to touch.

Mr. Einstein

Photo Credit:  Mike Monahan

Aquariums in a labyrinth of hallways hold sea horses, toads, large crabs, sea anemone, and the delightful, half-buried garden eels. The Creatures of Light exhibit (set up in the darkest hallway with black-light illumination) features nocturnal animals like the emerald tree boa and albino axolotls, amphibians also known as Mexican Salamanders.

 

Anemone, Crabs, and Toads, Oh, My!

Photo Credit:  Jacqueline Monahan and Mike Monahan

Along the way and at intervals are watery steps of narrow stone ponds in which the likes of lobsters and starfish reside. There is a two-finger touch policy in place for petting these animals, but other species can be taken out of their habitats to be held and fed. Want to wear a python necklace or a lorikeet hat? That can be arranged.

Starfish Hug

Photo Credit:  Jacqueline Monahan

Experienced guides lead groups on educational tours, pausing to pose questions before sharing fascinating facts about the species and sometimes disappearing momentarily to return with a fistful of snake or an armful of toucan.

Toucan Play This Game!                                                                                                                          Jellyfish

Photo Credit:  Jacqueline Monahan

The Animal Whisperer tour lets visitors discover what it takes to care for the thousands of animal species, their habitats and ecosystem maintenance, healthy diet planning and the behind-the-scenes requirements of meeting their needs. As always, it’s completely interactive and starts every hour on the hour. The cost is two tokens, or $4 per person and the tour is available for purchase in-store.

Caiman Lizard

Photo Credit:  DeDee White

Floor-to ceiling aviaries house Parakeets (aka Budgies) and Lorikeets galore, all eager to use visitors as perches. Lorikeets are larger, heavier, and resemble parrots more closely. Both species are native to Australia, and if you don’t mind them landing on your hand, shoulder, or head, they won’t mind either.

Marla Canup and Great-Grandson Noah Birkland Feed (Wear) Lorikeets

Photo Credit:  DeDee White

The Caribbean Cove is a 45,000 gallon tank full of Bamboo Sharks, Nurse Sharks, Stingrays, and tropical fish. It may also contain snorkelers or mermaids at any given moment. Up to six guests can take the plunge, outfitted in wetsuits. There is a separate charge for this activity; it’s not token-based like buying animal feed, taking tours, or the virtual reality experience which “enables guests to submerse themselves into the deep and see a whale and other sea creatures as they explore the Blu,” according to SeaQuest Marketing Director, Ella MacDonald.

Noah Birkland Explores The Deep With Virtual Reality
Photo Credit: DeDee White

Those not going underwater can stand tank-side to feed the marine life that congregates at the surface. Did you know that the underside of a stingray resembles smiling, star-shaped pizza dough? (Before toppings) Visitors will find that they also feel feathery soft and flutter about like monochromatic, aquatic butterflies. Sharks maneuver deftly through the cove and may surface for a bite or two…not YOU, just your fish/shrimp offering.

Stingray Smile

Photo Credit:  Jacqueline Monahan

A further stroll will take you to Adventurer’s Boardwalk, where you’ll encounter Koi fish, ducks, a family of Capybaras (frequently mistaken for beavers), a friendly Toucan, Puffer Fish, a snack bar with tables, supplies to make crayon-based impressions of SeaQuest creatures, water tables to build mini dams and control flow, a hurricane machine (you stand inside while your hair goes vertical) and the VR (virtual reality) experience among other activities.

Koi Fish Topped With Ducks

Photo Credit:  Jacqueline Monahan

Capybara Family

Photo Credit:  Jacqueline Monahan

You will pass the door to an indoor playroom/party room complete with a jump castle and slide, a movie alcove, and a pirate-themed character cutout where two can place their faces through holes for a comical photo-op. There’s also an outdoor playground named Eldorado Springs, complete with misters for hot weather relief and picnic tables for al fresco dining.

The Shark Lagoon is the last display before exiting and inhabits a large room where you’ll find a variety of giant shark figures suspended from the ceiling. Beneath them is a huge tank full of sharks circling around in a tank that is not as deep as the one encountered in Caribbean Cove. No diving here, but an opportunity for a closer look from above the water line. You can also stand inside large shark jaws as a reminder of how some varieties (Great White) have earned the title of man-eater.

Mike Monahan Lookin' Sharp (Shark?)

Photo Credit:  Jacqueline Monahan

Shark Lagoon

Photo Credit:  DeDee White

Exiting through the Gift Shop takes you full circle through the vast exhibit, although you are not compelled to leave. You may opt to retrace your steps from the beginning to take in all of the activities and exhibits a second time. There is so much to explore that even this rather extensive article can’t begin to cover it all.

You will just have to Sea(Quest) for yourself.

 

 

 

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