There is a Long Island Aquarium located downtown on 3.2 acres along the picturesque Peconic River in Riverhead, Long Island. This aquarium was built in the late spring of 1999 and began operating in early 2000. As the first large-scale aquarium to open in New York State in more than 35 years, the facility officially opened on June 15, 2000. Long Island Aquarium is one of the most popular attractions year-round on Long Island, with millions of visitors each year.
There is a wonderful collection of friendly sea lions at the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead, as well as a butterfly exhibit and much more. This is a great place to visit in the winter. According to Darlene Puntillo, of the Long Island Aquarium, “this is the best time to visit because it is a little quieter.”. At the Aquarium, Puntillo says it’s been 10 years since the Butterfly Habitat opened and guests can enjoy the warm weather of the habitat as well as the variety of butterflies and flowers.
This winter, a new exhibit will feature crabs as its star attraction alongside the butterflies. The Malawi blue crab, native to Southeastern Africa, is about the size of a basketball when it is fully grown, according to Long Island Aquarium entomologist Jeff Petracca.
You can also see sea lion shows outside. Visitors will be greeted outside the front door of the aquarium by seals, including Buddy, a blind seal rescued from Fire Island last fall.
The Aquarium’s Collen Toussaint explains that even though he is blind, he still navigates through the habitat thanks to his long whiskers. Since they know he’ll probably bump into them, the other seals will get out of his way if they see him coming.”
After being closed to the public due to COVID-19, the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead has reopened. On their way to the outdoor dining and retail shops, guests can stroll through the aquarium and enjoy all the exhibits and animal habitats as part of Suffolk County’s Phase Two New York Forward reopening. The third phase of the program is set to begin on Wednesday, June 22, which will further loosen restrictions.
As a result of the shutdown, Long Islanders stuck at home are looking forward to a fun family day at the aquarium, according to a press release.
You can see all the outdoor exhibits while enjoying a meal at the Atlantis Café or ice cream at Scoops Ice Cream Shop, all of which are located outside on the picturesque Peconic River.
“We have over 30,000 square feet of outdoor exhibit space, the public can enjoy our California sea lions, African black-footed penguins, North American river otters, reptiles and so much more in a safe outdoor environment,” says Bryan DeLuca, the executive director of the aquarium.
Long Island Aquarium set up a GoFundMe page when the pandemic first hit in March. The aquarium was closed to the public, but its team of animal caretakers, who were considered essential employees, continued caring for the animals and maintaining their habitats.
The aquarium estimated it would lose approximately 60,000 visitors and incoming revenue during the New York State-mandated closure. A GoFundMe campaign has raised over $30,000.
The privately-owned aquarium is home to one of the largest all-living coral reef displays in this part of the world, a 120,000-gallon shark tank, numerous touch tanks, butterflies from all over the world, and more than 100 exhibits and interactive experiences.
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