The Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks
Some of our earth’s most unique and interesting surprises reside within the depths of our lakes and oceans. We may never get a chance to appreciate these creatures if not for the passion and care that marine biologists take to ensure their survival and our knowledge of them.
The Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks is one such learning environment. For example, have you ever heard the voltage of an electric eel stunning its prey? Have you seen how hungry, toothy piranhas devour their victims? Or, have you ever seen the comical sight of the archerfish shooting its buggy prey from under the water with mouthy water spouts?
With nearly 200 interactive exhibits, the Oklahoma Aquarium is an educational treat for children and adults of all ages. In addition to the self-guided exhibits, onsite aquarium staff is eager to explain and demonstrate facts about our aquatic neighbors.
My family and I took a recent trip. Here are just a very few of the many amazing facts we learned. Test your knowledge.
Some Weird But True Aquatic Facts
Did you know that horseshoe crabs have blue blood? Or, were you aware that an eight foot octopus can fit through a hole the size of a quarter? How about the fact that an electric eel can generate a charge of 650 volts of electricity to stun aggressors or prey?
One of my favorite, yet unexpected facts pertains to the clownfish- the cute orange and white fish made famous in the movie Finding Nemo. Known as a protandric, the clownfish starts life as a male, but when a female in the group dies or is removed, the largest male changes to a female—weird, huh?
You might expect to find the largest catfish in Oklahoma, but maybe not the largest bull sharks. The Oklahoma Aquarium has the largest bull sharks and the largest collection of these predators in the country. You can view them as if you were underwater by walking through the unique tunnel in the Siegfried Families Shark Adventure. On Monday and Thursday afternoons at 1:30, you can take the experience up a notch by attending the feed shows.
If “touchy and feely” is for you, head for the hands-on exhibits like the Reasor’s Shrimp Boat in the Amazing Invertebrates Gallery, or the stingray feed and touch tanks in the Ecozone. Check the website for all the touch, feed and dive show times through the week.
Other major galleries and exhibits include Extreme Fishes, with the Extreme Amazon and its crawl-through tunnel leading under the water’s surface, Aquatic Oklahoma, The Hayes Family Ozark Stream, The Coral Reef and Marvels and Mysteries. Although it’s not open yet, you can peer through windows to see the future Sea Turtle Experience exhibit. While it’s under construction, watch for behind-the-scenes tours to meet the sea turtles even before they move to the public area.
Food and Gifts
The Coral Reef Café’, located on the property, offers a casual, comfortable setting to fill grumbling tummies (including outdoor riverfront dining, weather permitting). Menu items include a variety of sandwiches, wraps, cookies and more. The Aquarium Gift shop has a large assortment of cute aquatic-themed art, toys, shirts, and disposable cameras for your take home souvenirs.
Interactive, Educational Fun
So, why do horseshoe crabs have blue blood and why are seahorse daddies are more like mommies? A trip to the Oklahoma Aquarium is a much more exciting—and memorable—way to find out the answers than an Internet search, so plan a visit soon and enjoy one of Oklahoma’s most unusual treasures.
300 Aquarium Drive
Jenks, OK 74037
- Open 10:00am-6:00pm, Until 9:00pm on most Tuesdays (Closed Christmas Day)
- Children under three admitted free; childre 3 to 12-$11.95; seniors and military-$13.95; adults-$15.95
- 918-296-FISH or OKAquarium.org
Karen Mitchell, a lifelong resident of the Oklahoma City metro area, lives in Edmond with her husband, Mark, teenage son, Ryan, and one spoiled Welsh Corgi. Daughter, Megan, attends OSU in Stillwater.