Explore the Baltimore landmark with a behind-the-scenes tour.
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No matter your age or area of interest, the National Aquarium is the place to visit on a trip to Baltimore. From sea dwellers like sharks and turtles to land critters like sloths and puffins, this aquatic destination is home to a wealth of wildlife that helps visitors learn a little more about the planet they live on.

In this episode of Walk With T+L, the aquarium's experts take viewers on a behind-the-scenes tour to showcase the animals and explain how each of their unique habitats thrive. To find out more about the exhibits and future plans, we caught up with Lindsey Rowell, the aquarium's public relations specialist. Here's what she had to say.

Walk With T+L, National Aquarium episode, two staff members in puffins exhibit

Travel + Leisure: What would you say is the most popular exhibit at the aquarium? Which one tends to be the fan-favorite? 

Lindsey: A consistent fan favorite is Shark Alley. As guests descend the winding pathway, they come nose-to-nose with several species of sharks and learn that there is much more to admire about these misunderstood predators than there is to fear.  

In addition, Jellies Invasion, which features nine species of translucent and brainless invertebrates, brings guests from near and far. From the graceful Pacific sea nettle to the short and stout blue blubber, this exhibit highlights the stunning diversity of jelly populations.  

Finally, the Upland Tropical Rain Forest rounds out the Aquarium's top three most popular exhibits, transporting guests to the heart of a South American rain forest. Beautiful tropical birds, hanging sloths, and scampering golden lion tamarin monkeys live among hundreds of rain forest plants to recreate one of the most biologically diverse — and rapidly disappearing — habitats on Earth. 

Beyond looking at the amazing animals in the aquarium, what do you hope guests (or viewers of your episode) get out of visiting? 

Lindsey: The National Aquarium works to change the way humanity cares for our ocean planet. The Aquarium hopes that with each visit, guests will learn something that motivates them to protect wildlife species and habitats in their own communities. 

In addition, outside of the Aquarium, through science-based education programs and hands-on field initiatives, the National Aquarium is creating a new community of hopeful conservationists, driven by its mission to inspire conservation of the world's aquatic treasures. 

We know the aquarium is planning on constructing a new dolphin reserve. Can you tell us a little bit about that? 

Lindsey: The National Aquarium plans to build a seaside sanctuary for its Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, the first of its kind in North America. The site will give aquarium staff the ability to provide lifetime customized care for each dolphin in a larger outdoor location with natural sea water, tropical or subtropical climate, and natural stimulus such as fish and aquatic plants. 

What's next for the aquarium? Are there any future plans you can talk about? 

Lindsey: The aquarium plans to install a network of floating wetlands between Piers 3 and 4 [in Baltimore's Inner Harbor], creating a habitat for native species, gradually improving the harbor's water quality, and reconnecting residents and visitors with the natural world right at the water's edge. Currently, a floating wetland prototype is in place.