Discovering SeaQuest – An Interactive Aquarium –
By Mara Dobyns –
Ever heard of SeaQuest? No? Good, let’s dive in! Please bare with me as I make all the puns. They say the cure for anything is saltwater; sweat, tears, or the sea, but what if you don’t have the means to get to the sea? That’s where SeaQuest comes in. It’s the gift of saltwater and all it’s mysterious powers and creatures without actually being at the ocean. It’s the opportunity to learn and play right alongside these magical beings themselves. A chance to support ocean life and empower our future generation with knowledge and inspiration in the most hands on way. It’s an interactive ocean adventure and it’s beneficial on so many levels. Play is what pulls together the logical and creative parts of the brain. It helps develop and cultivate skills in young children that they can use not only now but throughout adulthood and so on. By nurturing their or our own creativity and imagination it allows us to communicate ideas through social interaction, guiding the way to building a deeper understanding and far more connected and powerful relationships and experiences. It helps develop fine motor skills, independence, and self esteem. To put it simply, it is one of the best things we can do to help create happy and successful humans. More so, when I allow time for play, I just feel better.
In a past interview with one of SeaQuest’s National Marketing Directors, Elsa MacDonald, she stated “What we do is give families an opportunity to experience five continents of the planet, represented by hundreds of species. They do this without having to leave their community. The thought process is that we are bringing in animals that people would not otherwise be exposed to. We are building an awareness for the need for conservation. We are doing this by bonding and understanding the challenges animals face in their own habitats. This is really helping to preserve the areas where these animals originate from.” She goes on to say that “Until people really see these creatures, they don’t understand and appreciate them. They see that they are very cool and we need them and we want them in our environment.” The difference between SeaQuest and most Aquariums is obvious, it’s interactive, making it a much more personal, uniquely enriching, and fulfilling experience.
My daughter, Vivian, and I recently had the opportunity to go explore SeaQuest for ourselves. We thought that maybe, just maybe, there might be other families out there that weren’t aware that such a place existed and that maybe they would thrive on the difference they can make for these animals and the knowledge they can gain through experiencing it on their own, in the animals natural environment and on their level. And hopefully go on to spread the ability to make that difference and share those experiences.
Elsa continues “There are a lot of people in the communities where we operate who love animals and are passionate about the environment. They want their kids to have that experience, so in that regard it’s pretty simple. On the occasions where we have activists identifying that animals belong in the wilds, our message always remains consistent – we always put our animals first. Our team members are really well-qualified to take care of their needs, and we have veterinarians that come in to make sure that our animals are happy and healthy. In that regard we do a great job of ensuring that we are providing the right environment and care for the animals, so that when our consumers come in we can provide that great experience for everyone.” Our experience included lots of fun facts from the Shark Trainer at their local location in Folsom, California. Swim along with me for all the details on just how special each encounter was.
Let me just start by saying that every employee we met took the best care of us and the animals. They were endlessly kind and consistently considerate of each animal and their habitat. It was easy to tell that they cared just as much about the animals as they did in creating the most informed, caring, connected and unforgettable experience for each guest in a clean and totally safe environment. Breaking down those walls between us and the animals and seeing them in such a natural habitat will completely change your perspective, at least it did for us.
Our first splash was up close and personal with the Wallaby’s, Holmes and Watson, who are native to Australia. Did you know, these goofy little guys love to chew on clothes? It was quite the experience. Our guide kept us behind the fence as she ventured in solo since their idea of play is not quite the same as ours. They enjoyed munching some lettuce straight out of our hands and then went back to their casual business of play fighting and nap time.
Prices for this encounter start at $19.99 per person and include 5-7 minutes of up close and personal time together as well as snacks and treats to hand feed the wallabies.
Our next stop was with an African Crested Porcupine named Quilly. Naturally nocturnal this sweet girl was easily persuaded to visitors once she realized we had some of her favorites, watermelon and sweet potatoes. It made me laugh that we enjoyed the same type of treats. Another interesting fact you may not know is that their quills have antibiotic properties. Or how about the fact that the word ‘porcupine’ has Latin roots and actually translates to Thorn Pig. Seeing Quilly interact in her own environment taught me so much I would have never known just from looking at her. This encounter lasts 5-7 minutes and starts at $19.99 per person.
Finally, the moment I’d been waiting for, we got to see a sweet two year old, two toed sloth, named Sydney, who is native to South and Central America rain forests. He is one of three sloths you can interact with in the Folsom location, including his mom and a recent rescue, Susie. He allowed us to feed him strawberries in between attempts to nap lazily in his hammock. What a life. Sloths are also nocturnal and happen to be one of my favorite animals and what attracted us to SeaQuest in the first place. Although they tend to live life naturally slower than most and only climb down from their tree once a week to defecate, they are actually incredibly fast swimmers. They are also responsible for avocados still existing. That’s right, you read that correctly, without a breed of extinct, giant ground sloths which were some of the only mammals that had digestive systems large enough to process the huge avocado seeds whole, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy avocados today. This green, delicious fruit is all thanks to them. They feasted on the fruit and then dispersed the seeds far and wide to continue growth. A play date with Sydney costs $49.99 per person and is 5-7 minutes of joyful sloth interaction. To book with Susie, their newest baby, prices start at $79.99.
I wasn’t ready for what was next because it changed my perspective the most. Imagine a giant fish tank filled with sting rays, sharks, fish, and a puffer fish named Pineapple. Now imagine wet suiting up and being invited to snorkel alongside these beautiful creatures and hand feed them shrimp. Now you don’t have to imagine it, just come to SeaQuest! When I tell you I am irrationally afraid of sharks, I’m not joking. Since I was little I can remember sometimes even being afraid to swim in pools out of concern of a hidden shark lurking around the corner. I know it’s silly, I know it’s not logical, but that’s fear for you. The fact that I was able to look past this and swim with these beautiful but sometimes known as beastly creatures is beyond me. Not only that but I enjoyed it. Every second of it. I didn’t expect to enjoy anything at SeaQuest more than the sloth exhibits and yet here we are. The best part? It’s an open tank, so even if you don’t swim with them you can still feed and interact with them. The biggest shark in the tank, Courage, is only 3 1/2 feet long. The Sting Reys which have had their stingers trimmed (which is comparable to us clipping our nails, and is basically pain free) took to my daughter and enjoyed swimming up into her lap and slurping shrimp straight out of her hands. Which is such a unique feeling! The sharks were also curious and cuddly and often swam up to rub up against us or would simply glide their way into our laps to say hello.
For this reason they gained a new nickname from us; water puppies. They are scratchy like sandpaper and enjoyed discovering us as much as we did them. Trust me, it is worth all the hype. We enjoyed snorkeling through their magical underwater world and learning about their lives and habitat. The biggest challenge for me was remaining calm and not kicking my legs if something happened to surprise me by swimming up against me. Luckily our 5’2, sea loving, shark trainer had lots to tell and plenty to teach to make us both feel completely comfortable and safe. She joked about how often people don’t believe her when she states her profession. My daughter shared her interest in marine biology and she encouraged her to chase those dreams and pursue a similar career in the near future. All in all, it was an incredible experience and has completely changed my preconceived notions and opinion on sharks. Not every shark is the same and they definitely don’t deserve the bad rep they’re often stuck with. This fin-tastic snorkel experience costs $49.99 per person or $249.99 for a private group of up to six snorkelers! That’s $49.99 off! The water is approximately 70-76 degrees so there’s no reason not to climb in and enjoy.
Our last encounter was the infamous Fishy Kissy experience. We ripped off our socks, rolled up our jeans, and let a bunch of tiny Red garra eat the dead skin off of our feet. It was a weird sensation, it tickled beyond belief, and as strange as it was, it was all part of the experience. Originally from Western Asia these toothless and gentle fresh water fish are eager to clean your feet and leave you feeling reenergized and rejuvenated for the rest of the day. Fishy Kisses start at $19.99 per individual and last up to ten minutes.
Okay, it’s oh-fish-ial, we loved SeaQuest and will be shore to visit again. I know, I know, Cod I just stop already? Okay I’m done, don’t make me walk the plank. In all seriousness though, SeaQuest offers so much more than what I mentioned above including an interactive Asian otter experience, turtles, an iguana, chickens, a beautiful and friendly real life mermaid to snap photos and capture the experience with and of course an amazing day you won’t soon forget. Upon purchasing your admission bracelet and any available encounters you want to splurge on, make sure you buy some extra feeding tokens to purchase animal food with because they have what look like simple quarter machines placed strategically around the exhibits with tasty treats inside for each of the animals, which is another fun activity all on it’s own. Token purchases vary in quantity and price. Above all else please be respectful and appreciate the opportunity that is SeaQuest. Together, learning through play, and unique interactive encounters we can help spread awareness and support for our animals friends.
Well, it’s been a shell of a ride. Thanks for joining our adventure and hopefully we’ll sea you there soon.
Make sure to check SeaQuests website for more information on interactive encounters, current hours, field trip opportunities, virtual field trip opportunities via their YouTube channel, lower sensory days, birthday party packages, community initiatives, other locations, discounts, promotions, and more! Child admission is only $11.99. Adults get in for $16.99. You can even build your own ultimate adventure bundle for $49.99 and choose any 3 encounters from their Elevated Animal Interactions. Just make sure to book your encounters at least one day in advance, admission is not included, and of course please arrive 15 minutes early before your scheduled time to check in.
Address: 430 Palladio Pkwy #1801, Folsom, CA 95630
Phone: (916) 673-9972
More Ways to Help For Beach Clean-Up Opportunities and Donations:
“Earth is an ocean planet. We cannot have a healthy planet, without healthy oceans. Will you join us?” – Shell Cleave, founder of
Kid Friendly Ways To Contribute:
Did You Know? You can adopt a sea turtle, shark, penguin, or even a lion! Each animal bead you purchase for your wearable bracelet from Fahlo comes with tracking for a real life version of the animal! Learn about their journey and follow them along to see the difference you are making in their story!
“Each bracelet tracks an animal and helps us save wildlife.” https://myfahlo.com
To read the full article with Elsa MacDonald go here: https://blooloop.com/animals/in-depth/macdonald-seaquest-interactive-aquariums/
Why let the water fun stop at SeaQuest? The Delta King welcomes you aboard their authentic paddlewheel Riverboat revived to its former glory and converted into a boutique style hotel, moored along the old Sacramento Waterfront, conveniently located in the Historical District of Old Town Sac with lots of attractions, shopping, and entertainment within walking distance. The Delta King was originally built in 1927 and has rich history and ties to Northern California. According to https://www.deltaking.com/history some of that history includes; “The Delta King is an authentic 285-foot riverboat that was originally built in Glasgow, Scotland and Stockton, California. The King and her identical twin, the Delta Queen, were christened on May 20, 1927, and began their daily river voyages between San Francisco and Sacramento in June of that year. At 6:00 p.m. each evening, the grand monarchs of the Delta left their docks for the 10 ½ hour trip that included prohibition-era drinking, jazz bands, gambling and fine dining.
It was an unrivaled trip of fun and adventure, but the completion of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge in 1937 and 1938 spelled the doom of the California riverboats. By 1940 the King and Queen were out of business and readied for transport to New York.
In 1940, World War II broke out, and the Delta King and Delta Queen were drafted into the U.S. Navy to serve on San Francisco Bay as troop transport ships, naval barracks and finally as hospital ships. They were painted Navy gray and renamed YFB 55 (Delta King) and YFB 56 (Delta Queen).”
For a full history, fun facts, and more about the Delta King, please visit the website. Today, this gorgeous floating hotel supports year round visitors and events benefiting the business and town around it. The Sacramento Bee even highlighted The Pilothouse Restaurant inside as a “Must Dine” destination. The Delta King is often used for work conferences, a riverside wedding venue, and of course dining. Guests can enjoy that dining for breakfast as part of their stay as well as views and an experience like no other. Check it out for yourself and enjoy a night or weekend away submerged in the city with a cozy river front or city view.
Book at: https://www.deltaking.com