by Bella DiMascio
SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium: Underwater Wonders
Join us as we dive deep into the captivating world of SEA LIFE Aquarium in Michigan – a hidden gem that brings the enchanting marine realm right to our doorstep.
Picture yourself surrounded by a kaleidoscope of colors, where the gentle sway of aquatic plants creates a soothing symphony, and the dance of exotic sea creatures captures your imagination. I recently had the pleasure of experiencing the magic of SEA LIFE Aquarium, and I can’t wait to share our underwater escapade with you.
I’m taking you on a virtual tour through the fascinating exhibits that showcase the diverse marine life thriving in Michigan’s waters. From the mysterious depths of the Great Lakes to the vibrant coral reefs of distant oceans, SEA LIFE Aquarium offers a captivating journey that both educates and entertains.
Whether you’re a marine enthusiast, a family seeking a day of exploration, or someone looking for an escape into a world unlike any other, SEA LIFE Aquarium is your ticket to an unforgettable underwater odyssey. So, join me as I uncover the aquatic marvels that await at this extraordinary Michigan attraction.
Get ready to be submerged in wonder and ready to plan your own visit to this subaquatic paradise.
Located in Great Lakes Crossing Outlets of Auburn Hills
The journey begins in the freshwater exhibit. As you enter, immersive decoration will transport you to the rivers and lakes that these fish call home, complete with trees, rocks, and plenty of greenery. This habitat houses native Michigan fish species, including carp, trout, and sturgeon, the last of which is a major focus in SEA LIFE’s conservation efforts.
The lake sturgeon that call the aquarium home for now, are part of a larger effort to raise the population of this threatened species and return them to their local habitats. The aquarium’s freshwater conservation efforts don’t stop there. They also participate in watershed clean-ups around southeast Michigan, working with partners like Friends of the Detroit River, Save Lake St. Clair, and Clinton River Watershed Council.
Beyond rivers, lakes, and streams, SEA LIFE introduces you to the species that call harbors home.
Fish are attracted to harbors because of all the structures around that foster a diverse ecosystem of plants and animals for them to eat.
The aquarium replicates these environments for their tropical harbor-dwelling fish, complete with crates, posts, buoys, and more. Here, schooling fish swim in synchrony and playful puffer fish peek at you from behind the glass.
One of the highlights of the aquarium, the Interactive Touchpool is massively popular, especially with children. This hands-on opportunity provides the chance to learn through a multi-sensory experience with creatures like starfish and sea anemones.
A knowledgeable SEA LIFE expert stationed at the touchpool enhances the experience with fun fishy facts delivered with a friendly demeanor and encouraging smile.
The Shoaling Ring at SEA LIFE aquarium Michigan is the only 360° schooling tank in the state. Stand in the middle of the dim space as colored lights in the water highlight the schooling behavior of different groups of fish as they swim all around you.
This immersive 8,000-gallon exhibit is a fascinating look into one of the most popular and effective defense mechanisms for fish all around the world.
Seahorses at the aquarium welcome you to their home in the Mangrove exhibit. Seahorses are among the oceans most unique-looking fish, yes fish. Despite their strange appearance, they are indeed fish. You might think that because of their bizarre shape, they’d stick out like a sore thumb in the water, but in fact, they are experts in camouflage.
In their exhibits, the seahorses hold onto the marine structures and drift in the current alongside the plants while their coloration helps them blend against the rocks, so don’t give up if you don’t spot one right away.
Seahorses are another focus of SEA LIFE’s conservationism. The aquarium actively breeds potbelly seahorses, which face many challenges in the wild. Breeding these seahorses helps to reduce the stress on natural populations in our oceans and prepares conservationists to help repopulate the species, should they become critically endangered.
Doodle Reef & Stingray Bay
If you like stingrays, the next bits of the aquarium may be your favorites. The Doodle Reef provides a creative space for kids as they use their imagination to make up a brand-new kind of fish.
Watch as your brand-new fish swim among real ones, particularly little rays that skate along the glass in front of you. You can even play games with your fish and care for it on your mobile device using a QR code.
In the next room over, Stingray Bay houses some sizable rays – certainly bigger than the little ones in the doodle reef. They coast along the sandy bottom of the 3,000-gallon tank while vibrant tropical fish swim over top of them. There are tons to see in this exhibit, housing around 20 species of tropical ocean fauna, including fish, eels, and – of course – shark’s, stingrays and cownose rays.
Much like harbors, shipwrecks attract tons of creatures at the ocean floor at all kinds of depths. Often shipwrecks become reefs all their own, housing invertebrates like corals, barnacles, and anemones that house, feed, and otherwise sustain fish and other larger marine animals.
In this exhibit you’ll find five tanks that total 6,000 gallons of wonder and curiosity, from unique species like the fierce-looking wolf eel and venomous lionfish to a classic reef tank that houses all your favorite “Finding Nemo” fish.
Acting as a sort of grand finale, the Tropical Ocean exhibit is the biggest and best in all of Michigan. The sheer variety of species in this tank is like a colorful oceanic game of iSpy with the blacktip reef shark, the nurse shark, massive groupers, green sea turtles, and tons of rays.
These animals all share a home in this 125,000-gallon tank and you can see them all from their perspective as you walk through the Ocean Tunnel. Watch as a miniature sea comes to life beside and above you and step towards the glass to come “face to fin” with around 20 diverse ocean species in the 180-degree underwater ocean tunnel.
As you exit the underwater tunnel, don’t miss the jellyfish tank, where moon jellies float around, lit up with vibrant colors to help you see them more clearly.
If you spot any green sea turtles here, they’re likely part of a protection project. SEA LIFE funds centers to treat sea turtles injured by boat collisions, fishing nets, pollutants, and more and many of these turtles are rehabilitated in SEA LIFE aquariums around the world, including here in Michigan.
Visit SEA LIFE Aquarium
Tickets start at around $25, so this aquarium is a rather affordable and accessible choice for families. However, don’t overlook combo ticket opportunities that get you more bang for your buck with admission to Peppa Pig World of Play and Legoland Discovery Center, both located within the mall.
As good as the bundles are, today, the focus is on the aquarium, where unique aquatic exhibits show off hundreds of species from all around the world. So, Board the S.S. SEA LIFE with us and let’s embark on an undersea adventure that conveys the wonder of water and the sea creatures that live below the surface in an underwater world, so different from our own.
SEA LIFE Michigan FAQ
SEA LIFE Michigan is home to thousands of individual creatures across around 250 species.
Tickets start around $25 and are best purchased online in advance. Opportunities to save by bundling admissions with other Merlin Entertainments destinations in the mall, including Legoland Discovery Center Michigan and Peppa Pig World of Play are also available.
You can expect to spend about two hours at the aquarium to see each of the exhibits fully.
Anyone of any age can enjoy the SEA LIFE Aquarium of Michigan. The wonders of our oceans are not limited by ages, but children will especially enjoy the interactivity and colorful exhibits.
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About the Author-
Bella DiMascio is a Content Editor for mymichiganbeach.com. She grew up in the Detroit suburb of Westland and later attended Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo where she majored in Communication Studies and minored in English: Writing. Creative writing has been a hobby and interest of Bella’s since she was in elementary school and she is thrilled to be using her talents to highlight the Great Lakes State. Outside of writing, Bella enjoys getting outside with her two Australian Shepherds, playing video games, and binging shows on Netflix.