The moon jellies are part of the aquarium's "Sea Jellies of the Georgia Coast" exhibit — Photo courtesy of University of Georgia Marine Education Center and Aquarium
Don’t be fooled by the University of Georgia Marine Education Center and Aquarium’s academic-sounding name. This quaint aquarium and learning center, perched at the very end of Skidaway Island in Savannah, is meant for the public to enjoy.
Located on the University of Georgia Marine Extension Service’s Savannah campus, the aquarium features 16 exhibit tanks populated by a variety of indigenous marine life. Visitors can expect to see horseshoe crabs, stingrays, striped mullet, longnose gar, pompano, red lionfish, seahorses, moon jellies, an octopus, a diamond back terrapin and even a bonnethead shark.
The aquarium features two juvenile American alligators — Photo courtesy of University of Georgia Marine Education Center and Aquarium
A freshwater tank boasts two baby American alligators, which are considered keystone species on Georgia’s barrier islands.
The aquarium’s touch tank is a favorite among kids, who can learn about indigenous invertebrates such as spider crabs, hermit crabs, horseshoe crabs and whelks.
The aquarium also features an exhibition of artifacts that were dredged from Skidaway River, including fossils of sharks, giant armadillos, whales, mastodons and woolly mammoths.
The aquarium overlooks Skidaway River — Photo courtesy of University of Georgia Marine Education Center and Aquarium
An interactive 3-D diorama of Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary - located just 18 miles off the Georgia coast -gives visitors a chance to learn about one of the largest near-shore live-bottom reefs in the southeastern United States.
The aquarium is ADA compliant and has a wheelchair lift that can access both levels of the building.
Once you’re done exploring the fascinating marine life inside the aquarium, head out back for the second part of your adventure. The aquarium is located on a gorgeous tract of land on the banks of Skidaway River. Guests can sit on benches and take in the view or enjoy a snack at one of the many waterfront picnic tables.
The ADA-approved nature trail takes visitors through a maritime forest — Photo courtesy of University of Georgia Marine Education Center and Aquarium
Those up for a short walk will enjoy taking a hike on the Jay Wolfe Nature Trail. The trail, which has a .3-mile loop and a longer .7-mile loop, features several Geocaches, trail kiosks with information on points of interest, a 1930s-era cabin, an interpretive cabin and whiskey still remains.
An ADA-compliant boardwalk traverses the salt marsh and boasts several observation platforms that give visitors an opportunity to view local wildlife and plants.
The University of Georgia Marine Education Center and Aquarium sponsors an annual Marine Science Day every October. The fun and free event includes programs, tours, displays and hands-on activities for people of all ages.
The center also sponsors weekly summer camps for children ages 4-14. Students spend the week learning about the Georgia coast, marine science and coastal ecology through a variety of field and lab activities.
Kids who participate in the aquarium's summer camp get up close and personal with local marine life — Photo courtesy of University of Georgia Marine Education Center and Aquarium