Jackets visit Georgia Aquarium with SCPC

Photo by Kunal Sahoo Student Publications

The Student Center Programs Council’s (SCPC) Night at the Aquarium took place this year on the evening of Feb. 9. Similar to previous years, tickets were provided for students, faculty and guests at discounted prices and with after-hours access. 

Jackets were shuttled to and from the aquarium in buses, available at 30 minute intervals throughout the evening and into closing hours.

As SCPC’s Night at the Aquarium is an annual event, there were many returning students who had enjoyed the experience from years prior and came back to make even more exciting memories. 

“It’s always just a really fun event, they put on a great event for us tonight. It’s always cool getting to see the animals without having to fight like massive crowds that you normally have to and this whole area wasn’t open the last time I was here so I got to see something completely new,” said Allison Lloyd, fourth-year EE. 

The aquarium’s Dolphin Show is a popular recurring feature that was present again for this evening. At 7 p.m., the performance, which normally includes an additional fee for reservations, opened to all students free of charge on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

In total, 1,300 students were able to attend the show and witness a live training demonstration in the dolphin theater. 

Jack Peta, first-year IE, was one of those lucky students.

“It was really cool. Especially when [the trainer] stood on the dolphin and went across the whole pool. It was crazy; it was like Pokémon,” Peta said.

As it is such a popular show, SCPC also organized the Sea Lion Presentation to start at 7:30 p.m. This gave students more options as well as the opportunity for those who missed out on the Dolphin Show to get a chance to see some other animals in action. 

Aman Tiwari, MS Cybersecurity, missed out on the Dolphin Show, but was able to get to the Sea Lion Presentation just in time. 

“I made it to the sea lion show, like the last few seats [left], and it was pretty amazing. I think the last time I saw it, there were three sea lions but tonight there was a seal too! I think the training is just amazing. Every time I’m so shocked because I don’t know how they train them so well that they do everything in an instant; it’s pretty cool,” Tiwari said.

The large crowds of students explored other exhibits around the aquarium and had the opportunity to interact with different animals too. The Shark and Ray Interaction exhibit was particularly popular as students got the chance to hear fun facts about the animals while petting them through the water. 

The after-hours setting also provided unique insights into the living spaces of animals that would not typically be able to be seen during the daytime hours of operation. The beluga tank and others were dimmed and the deep sea bioluminescent creatures and coral reef shone even brighter under the evening lights.  

For some students, the night provided a welcome reliving of childhood memories made at the aquarium combined with the opportunity to have a new experience and perspective as a young adult. 

“I love it. I mean I’ve been here before because I’m a Georgia resident, but it was when I was like six so I’m actually enjoying it,” said Peter Aimasiko, second-year CS.

Similar sentiments were shared by other Jackets at the event. 

“I’m an Atlanta native. I grew up here, so I’ve been here quite a few times on field trips in elementary and middle school. It’s really nice to feel the nostalgia because I came here the first time the day that I moved here when I was three so it’s a really nostalgic place for me to be,” Peta said.

As the aquarium is only a 20 minute walk away from Tech’s campus and is a recurring scene for SCPC events, it can be easy to take the experience for granted. In fact, the Georgia Aquarium is special, not only within the United States but also compared to aquariums globally. 

In terms of size, it is still the largest aquarium in the Americas and the only one outside of Asia with a whale shark. 

It is also a key player in worldwide conservation and research initiatives. Many of their projects include collaborative efforts with Tech and their students. Their endeavors extend from climate change solutions to animal conservation advocacy and education. 

Students praised the SCPC’s ability to organize the event in a way that supports the aquarium and its fishy residents while still maintaining the social and entertaining elements of a night out for Jackets to come to with friends.

“I think it’s really great. I mean they’re able to get a large percentage of the student body to do a lot of things in Atlanta that they would otherwise not be able to go to, and I think that’s really valuable,” Lloyd said. 

Attendees were also pleasantly surprised with the general organization of the event, despite having such a large turnout in an enclosed space. 

“I think the SCPC does a pretty good job, from what I’ve heard about other experiences from my friends. I’ve heard they do a good job with the organizing and ticketing. Put together, I think their organization skills are pretty amazing,” Tiwari said.

As the night grew longer and crowds started to dwindle, the hustle and bustle of the early evening was replaced by smaller groups of students wandering slowly around the remaining exhibits and relaxing at the cafe on the upper floor. 

The 2024 SCPC’s Night at the Aquarium finally came to an end at 11 p.m., after hours filled with aquatic life, excitement and wonder. It was a gentle close to one of the most popular, campus-wide events SCPC will host this semester. 

Once again, SCPC was able to provide Jackets with an impressive but relaxing event to get off campus into the local city, spend time with friends and close out another long week of schoolwork.

Jackets can learn about other upcoming SCPC events and learn more about the organization at their instagram @gtscpc.