More than 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered in water. But most of us are much more familiar with the animals hanging out with us up here on land. And that’s not just because they’re easier to see. To put it simply: Fish. Are. Icky. You know how it is. You’re at the beach, having a good time, when all of a sudden you feel something touching your leg. And you freak out. Was it a fish? Was it just seaweed? Who cares?! It was slimy. You don’t do slimy.
That’s why June has been designated “National Aquarium Month”—to remind you that there is a way to observe the incredible beauty of the sea without the danger of being touched by a fish. To give you some guidance this month, we’ve highlighted some of the coolest aquariums here and across the globe.
And for all of our cosplayers, we’ve got a special challenge for you at the end of the list.
National Aquarium – Baltimore, MD
Image via National Aquarium
New York has the Empire State Building. Seattle has the Space Needle. And Baltimore has the National Aquarium. In the aquarium’s newest exhibit, visitors are encouraged to “Please touch the animals.” That includes—*gulp*—jellyfish. Apparently, their guests are a little less squeamish than we are.
Audubon Aquarium of the Americas – New Orleans, LA
Image by Jeff Strout via Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
Listen up folks: You can get a Penguin Pass here. It lets you “Meet a penguin up close!” You read that right. For a small fee, YOU can befriend a penguin. Sometimes, dreams really do come true.
Texas State Aquarium – Corpus Christi, TX
Image via Texas State Aquarium
There’s, um, a lot of birds at this aquarium. Like, more than one bird-themed exhibit. We’re not really sure what’s up with that. But there are also dolphins, and a splash park, so we’re okay with it.
Marine Habitat at Atlantis – Paradise Island, Bahamas
Image via Marine Habitat at Atlantis
The Marine Habitat at Atlantis certainly lives up to its name, with exhibits designed to look like the ruins of the fabled lost city. And as if that wasn’t cool enough, you can actually ride a waterslide through a shark tank.
Parque Explora – Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Image via Parque Explora
After seeing this guy out front, the sharks don’t seem quite so tough. With more than 30 dinosaur replicas around the aquarium, Parque Explora wins the award for coolest outside decorations.
Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo – The Dubai Mall
Image via Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo
The lion may be king of the jungle, but the ocean is another realm entirely, and “King Croc” is putting the great white shark on notice. Already more than 16-feet long, this guy still isn’t finished growing! And guess what? King and Queen Croc just had babies!
Nausicaá, Centre National de la Mer – Boulogne-sur-Mer, France
Image via Nausicaá, Centre National de la Mer
They’re called the “Muses,” and we have no idea what they’re about. But one thing’s for sure: they’ve made Nausicaá our favorite aquarium on this list.
To all of our cosplayers, we invite—nay, we challenge you—to bust out one of these looks on the convention floor this year. You could be one of 200 Batmen. Or you could be the one-and-only Valentin.
Speaking of costumes, we’ve got a few that are sure to make a splash at your next aquarium visit: