With its bevy of colorful fish and menacing looking sharks, Ripley's Aquarium is a Myrtle Beach attraction brimming with fun for the whole family. However, if you're looking for a one-of-a-kind experience, the aquarium's Swim with the Stingrays program is a great way to submerge yourself into a vivid, educational world.
Available for ages 6 and older, this attraction offers adventurers some up close and personal time with the variety of stingrays calling Ripley's Aquarium's Ray Bay home. Southern, Atlantic, Bottlenose, Bullnose, and Spotted Eagle are the array of stingrays that you'll experience during the two hour venture.
With two stingray experience programs available, attendees will get a behind the scenes look at the inner workings of Ripley's Aquarium. Along with experiencing the work that goes on in their laboratories and food prep area, attendees will also receive an informative lesson about the stingrays that they're about to meet one-on-one.
Donning dive skins over swimsuits, Swim with the Stingrays attendees enter the water for a 30-minute swim session with the stingrays in a two-and-a-half foot deep pool known as Friendship Flats. Amid the fauna and rock exterior setting, attendees enter the pool where the stingrays glide effortlessly through the water and welcome new friends to their home. While interacting with the stingrays, a diver will review the behavior, feeding habits, and biology of the various stingrays.
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Michelle Ruthenberg, Ripley's Aquarium's Director of Education, describes the stingrays as "wet puppy dogs," and says the program is completely safe. Since the barbs have been removed from the stingray's tails, swimmers can feel at ease touching and interacting with them.
If you prefer to take the experience further, Ripley's Aquarium's other program, Stingray Experience Plus, allows attendees to snorkel over the deeper waters of Ray Bay. While observing the stingrays in their natural setting, snorkelers can also view small bamboo and bonnethead sharks. Or, if you're a certified diver, the Dive in Ray Bay program will allow you to dive deep into the stingrays' world at the aquarium.
Along with the behind the scenes program and swimming time, attendees will also receive a backpack, T-shirt, and photo CD. Tickets for Swim with the Stingrays cost $75, Stingray Experience Plus is $85, and Dive in Ray Bay tickets are $150, plus you must be previously certified to dive. Programs are available during regular operating hours, but reservations are required. For more information or to make reservations, call 916-0888, or visit www.myrtlebeach.ripleyaquariums.com.
Ripley's Aquarium is located at 1110 Celebrity Circle, Myrtle Beach, part of the Broadway at the Beach complex.