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Georgia Aquarium Welcomes Belugas, Mermaids

7:19 PM, Dec 2, 2010   |    comments
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Thoughout the month of December, a school of mermaids will perform in the aquarium's Ocean Voyager exhibit.

ATLANTA -- The Georgia Aquarium is welcoming two new Beluga Whales to its Cold Water Quest exhibit. Grayson and Qinu (pronounced kee-nu) are both juvenile belugas. Grayson is 3 years old and Qinu is 2. They join the aquarium's other two beluga's Maris and Beethoven.

But that's not the only thing new at the aquarium. Mermaids have also be brought in to perform throughout the holidays.

"One of our key philosophies is entertain to educate," said Georgia Aquarium Vice President of Marketing Scott Higley.

The Georgia Aquarium has built a reputation for cultivating a remarkable collection of amazing sea creatures. "We've always been all about showcasing the most amazing underwater creatures," Higley said. "And we found another unusual underwater creature which is mermaids."

Thoughout the month of December, a school of mermaids will perform in the aquarium's Ocean Voyager exhibit. They're from Florida's Weeki Wachee Spring State Park.

In front of the largest aquarium viewing window in North America, the mermaids swim among the whale sharks, manta rays and fish. They perform underwater choreographed dances set to Christmas music.

Though the mermaids perform among the animals, the aquarium says the fish are not hurt or disturbed. "They're very curious and they want to see what's going on," Higley said. "But we find that both the mermaids and the animals seem to be entertained by each other."

"We're not used to any of that wildlife. It's miraculous," said Weeki Wachee Mermaid Shannon Tooker. "The tank is huge. It's so much fun to swim in. It's a little intimidating but nothing that you can't get over."

While the mermaids performances are meant to entertain, the aquarium says it helps them reach new audiences.

"Once you have their attention you can talk about the education aspect, the research and the conservation, all the good the aquarium does in the wild and that's a big part of what we do," Higley said.

The Weeki Wachee mermaids will be performing at the Georgia Aquarium through January 2nd. Now through December 23rd, kids will also have the chance to get their picture taken with "SCUBA Claus". A full schedule of both events has been posted on the Georgia Aquarium's website.

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