Aquarium of the Americas
The Aquarium of the Americas seen from the Mississippi River
|Location||New Orleans, Louisiana, USA|
|Number of animals||10,000|
|Number of species||530|
Recognized as one of the leading aquariums in the United States, it is run by the Audubon Institute, which also supervises the Audubon Zoo and Audubon Park (in a different part of the city). It is located along the banks of the Mississippi River by the edge of the historic French Quarter off Canal Street, at the upper end of Woldenberg Park. It opened in 1990.
As its name implies, the aquarium specializes in aquatic life of the Americas. The exhibits feature regions throughout North and South America. With 10,000 animals representing 530 species, noteworthy exhibits include:
- Caribbean reef exhibit featuring a clear, 30-foot (9 m) long tunnel surrounded by a 132,000 US gallons (500 m3) tank of exemplary sea life such as the tarpon and angelfish;
- Amazon exhibit, encased in a glass cylinder, effectively a humid, climate-controlled greenhouse that is a prominent feature of the riverfront and includes macaws, piranhas, an anaconda, freshwater stingrays, and other specimens from the area basin;
- Mississippi River gallery, featuring catfish, paddlefish, owls and a leucistic white alligator; and
- Gulf of Mexico exhibit, featuring a 400,000 US gallons (1,500 m3), 17-foot (5 m) tall tank of sharks, sea turtles, and stingrays from there.
In popular culture
Several scenes of Werner Herzog's 2009 film Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, starring Nicolas Cage, were filmed inside the aquarium. It also features in the tenth episode of the TV series Life After People, in which, without people to feed or clean the tanks of the animals, they would all be dead within one year with the white alligator being the last to die.
Katrina damage and aftermath
In 2005, the facilities were affected by Hurricane Katrina. Though the structure survived the initial hurricane and was on high ground above the subsequent flooding of most of the city, electricity outages continued and the backup power generators were unable to fully operate the sophisticated life support systems needed to keep the animals alive. Aquarium staffers were forced to evacuate the facility only to return four days later to discover that most of the 10,000 fish did not survive.
The aquarium reopened on May 26, 2006. Since Hurricane Katrina, more species have been in the Caribbean and jellyfish exhibits, and there has been a large revamp to the Gulf of Mexico tank simulating ocean life below an oil rig.
- "List of Accredited Zoos and Aquariums". aza.org. AZA. Retrieved May 19, 2012.
- "Katrina kills most fish in New Orleans aquarium". CNN. September 9, 2005. Archived from the original on January 21, 2012. Retrieved January 21, 2012.
- "Aquarium animals to be airlifted out of New Orleans". CNN. September 12, 2005. Archived from the original on January 21, 2012. Retrieved January 21, 2012.
- "Refilling the Aquarium". 2theadvocate.com. 14 May 2006. Retrieved 2006-08-29.[dead link]