South Carolina Aquarium

See an array of aquatic creatures, including an albino alligator, in underwater habitats ranging from salt marshes to coastal plains.

The South Carolina Aquarium houses some 6,000 plants and animals. The 60 exhibits cover five major geographical areas in South Carolina. See ocean-dwelling marine life and water-based creatures that live in the mountains. There’s also the Madagascar Journey, where you’ll learn about this island’s species, 70 percent of which are found nowhere else in the world.

Alabaster the albino alligator dwells in the Blackwater Swamp part of the Coastal Plains exhibit. He has red eyes, almost translucent scales and is sensitive to light. The survival rate for albino alligators in the wild is a matter of hours, so Alabaster is a rare sight. The conservation of Alabaster and other endangered animals like him is one of the roles of the aquarium.

The sea turtle rescue program treats and rehabilitates sick and injured turtles found on the coast before returning them to the wild. Visit the aquarium’s sea turtle hospital to learn about different species of turtle and how they’re brought back to health.

Watch young otters at play in the Mountain Forest exhibit. The enclosures are designed to resemble habitats in the Blue Ridge Mountains of South Carolina. A forest display features a waterfall with a pool of local fish, such as trout. For a real treat, listen to the songs of the mountain birds in the aviary.

A 15,000-gallon (56,781-liter) tank in the Great Hall entrance exhibits colorful fish found on coral reefs off the coast of South Carolina.

At the Saltmarsh Aviary you can join the mid-morning feeding of Atlantic stingrays. Purchase a cup of their food from Gilligan’s Shrimp Shack just near the exhibit.

When your feet need a rest, take a seat in the 4-D immersion theater and enjoy a film; the tickets are additional to admission.

The South Carolina Aquarium lies at the end of Charleston Waterfront Park near downtown Charleston. It’s just over a mile’s walk from downtown to the aquarium or you can drive and park in the adjacent garage for a fee. The CARTA shuttle bus stops at the aquarium and other attractions around Charleston.

The aquarium is open daily, except on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and half the day on Christmas Eve.

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