6 Abandoned Aquariums


Aquarium visits are a staple of many a childhood, and most of us can remember at least one day spent with our faces pressed up against the cool glass, marveling at the brightly colored fish swimming through the waters. A trip to the aquarium is often one of the earliest exposures children have to marine science—not to mention the joys (and horrors) of school field trips.

Perhaps the association with childhood is one of the things that makes aquariums feel so forlorn when things go wrong. The mold and decay contrasts with the cheerful colors of the peeling paint, and it’s easy to imagine the laughter of ghostly schoolchildren echoing down the hall. Here are six abandoned aquariums from around the world.

1. Coral Island Marine Park // Bahamas 

When it opened in 1987, the Coral Island Marine Park in the Bahamas drew throngs of tourists to its marine museum, underwater observatory, shark pools, snorkel trails, and secluded "villa hotel." But when Hurricane Floyd swept through in 1999, it caused massive damage, and the marine park was closed. Today the park’s ruins still sit against the turquoise waters of the Bahamas, but they’ve mostly been forgotten—tour guides sometimes claim the observatory is an old lighthouse or research station.

2. Old Cleveland Aquarium 

The original Cleveland Aquarium opened in February 1956 on the site of an old bathhouse and trailside museum. The building was converted by a group of volunteer tropical fish enthusiasts working under the auspices of the Cleveland Aquarium Society. (Their adorable motto: "Fish, Fun, Friends.”) The attraction featured 50 freshwater and marine exhibits, including swordfish, octopus, and corals, as well as rarer species such as Australian lungfish and red-bellied piranhas. A new wing added in 1967 tripled the aquarium's size. Yet despite drawing crowds, the aquarium suffered from financial and structural problems. It closed in 1985 and became a K-9 training facility for the Cleveland Police Department. Cleveland didn’t get a new aquarium until 2012.

3. Atlantis Marine Park // Two Rocks, Australia 

The Atlantis Marine Park in Two Rocks, Australia, about an hour north of Perth, opened to great fanfare in 1981. Hundreds of thousands of visitors came to watch the trained bottlenose dolphins, swim in the pools, ride the pedal boats, and marvel at the giant limestone sculpture of a jolly-looking King Neptune. The park was a major feature of Australian businessman Alan Bond's ambitious Yanchep Sun City, in which he planned to turn an old sheep station into a massive resort. Bond had big dreams for Atlantis, but financial issues forced the park to shut down after only nine years. (As it happens, Bond was jailed in 1997 for one of Australia’s biggest cases of corporate fraud; he died earlier this month.) Today the ruins are a popular spot for dog walkers. Local crayfishermen say they sometimes spot the park’s dolphins off the marina.

4. Sea-Arama Marineworld // Texas 

The 25-acre Sea-Arama Marineworld once boasted dolphin shows, a ski lake, a 50-foot aquarium, and men wrestling alligators. When it opened in 1965, it was one of the first ocean theme parks in the nation. But after the flashier and much larger SeaWorld opened in San Antonio in 1988, the crowds dwindled, and the owners were loathe to put money toward much-needed revitalization. The park closed in 1990 and fell into ruin, becoming a haven not for sea life but for local teens and graffiti artists. It was finally demolished in 2006. 

5. Saikaibashi Public Aquarium // Japan

It's tough to find detailed information in English on the Saikaibashi Public Aquarium, but a directory of museums in Japan says it was open by 1960, and urban explorers who have visited the ruins say it had fallen into decay by the mid-1990s. The two-floor museum wasn't known for extravagance, but did boast several dolphin shows each day. Today, the elements have taken their toll, leading to rust, dust, and cracks, and many of the structures are in danger of collapse. Watch out for dolphin ghosts. 

6. Lalbagh Gardens // Bangalore, India 

The centuries-old Lalbagh gardens in Bangalore, India, once included a glasshouse modeled on London's Crystal Palace (built in 1889 to commemorate a visit from the prince of Wales), as well as a popular bandstand, menagerie, tropical garden, and aquarium. Edward Lear once called it "the Kew of India." These days, travelers say it's more of a public park than a garden, and the abandoned aquarium building is a decrepit shell of its former self.

Bonus: the abandoned shopping mall that became an aquarium 

The New World shopping mall in Bangkok, built in 1982, went up in flames due to suspected arson in 1997, after which it was abandoned. Without a roof, the basement remained under water year-round. At some point in the early 2000s, a resident (his or her identity is unclear) began introducing koi, catfish, and tilapia into the water, perhaps to keep mosquito populations in check. The fish multiplied and the place transformed itself into an unexpected urban aquarium, with catfish swimming among the escalators. Sadly, this past January workers cleared out the fish and drained the water. At last report, the building was set for demolition.

Beyond Wanderlust: 30 Words Every Traveler Should Know

For those who travel, wanderlust is a familiar feeling. It’s that nagging voice in your head that says, “Yes, you do need to book that flight,” even if your bank account says otherwise. Regardless of how many passport covers this word may adorn, it doesn’t begin to cover the spectrum of emotions and experiences that can be revealed through the act of travel. Here are 30 travel words from around the world to keep in your back pocket as you're exploring this summer.


From the Latin vagari, meaning “to wander,” this 16th-century word originally meant a wandering journey. Nowadays, "vagaries" refer to unpredictable or erratic situations, but that doesn’t mean the old sense of the word can’t be invoked from time to time.


An Old English word that refers to something that’s both strange and marvelous. It's a great way to sum up those seemingly indescribable moments spent in an unfamiliar land.


Who hasn’t felt a strong desire to be somewhere—anywhere—other than where you currently are? That’s fernweh, or “farsickness," and this German word has been described as a cousin of wanderlust, another German loan word.


A busy street in Hong Kong

Anyone who has traveled abroad will recognize this feeling. The French word refers to the sense of disorientation that often sets in when you step outside your comfort zone, such as when you leave your home country.


Another gift from the French, this word literally translates to “drift,” but thanks to some mid-20th century French philosophers, it can also refer to a spontaneous trip, completely free of plans, in which you let your surroundings guide you.


To peregrinate is to travel from place to place, especially on foot. Its Latin root, peregrinus (meaning “foreign”), is also where the peregrine falcon (literally “pilgrim falcon”) gets its name.


Similar to peregrinate, this word essentially means to travel over or through an area by foot. So instead of saying that you’ll be walking around London, you can say you’ll be perambulating the city’s streets—much more sophisticated.


The Grand Canyon

This English word could appropriately be used to describe the Grand Canyon or the Northern Lights. Something numinous is awe-inspiring and mysterious. It's difficult to understand from a rational perspective, which gives it a spiritual or unearthly quality.


The young and the restless will want to incorporate this word into their lexicon. The adjective refers to those who are constantly moving from place to place—in other words, a nomadic existence. It stems from the Greek word peripatein (“to walk up and down”), which was originally associated with Aristotle and the shaded walkways near his school (or, according to legend, his habit of pacing back and forth during lectures).


You’re alone in a forest. It’s peaceful. The sun is filtering through the trees and there’s a light breeze. That’s waldeinsamkeit. (Literally "forest solitude." And yes, Germans have all the best travel words.)


In a similar vein, this Japanese word means “forest bathing,” and it's considered a form of natural medicine and stress reliever. There are now forest bathing clubs around the world, but you can try it out for yourself on your next camping trip. Take deep breaths, close your eyes, and take in the smells and sounds of the forest. Simple.


In those moments when you just want to run away from your responsibilities, you may consider becoming a solivagant: a solo wanderer.


This Japanese phrase literally translates to “a meal eaten sideways,” which is an apt way to describe the awkwardness of speaking in a foreign language that you haven’t quite mastered, especially over dinner.


A woman at the airport

You just booked your flight. Your heart starts racing. You’re a little nervous about your journey, but mostly you just can’t wait to get going. The anticipation, anxiety, and excitement you get before a big trip is all rolled into one word—resfeber—and you can thank the Swedes for it.


Taken from the French flâner, meaning to stroll or saunter, this word describes someone who has no particular plans or place they need to be. They merely stroll around the city at a leisurely pace, taking in the sights and enjoying the day as it unfolds.


This could be construed as the traditional English equivalent of flâneur. Likely stemming from the Middle English verb gadden, meaning “to wander without a specific aim or purpose,” a gadabout is one who frequently travels from place to place for the sheer fun of it. In other words: a modern-day backpacker.


Sometimes, no matter how amazing your vacation may be, you just want to come home to your bed and cats. This Welsh word sums up the deep yearning for home that can strike without warning. As Gillian Thomas put it in an interview with the BBC, “Home sickness is too weak. You feel hiraeth, which is a longing of the soul to come home to be safe.”


The karst peaks of Guilin, China

This Japanese word can be taken to mean “graceful elegance” or “subtle mystery,” but it’s much more than that. It's when the beauty of the universe is felt most profoundly, awakening an emotional response that goes beyond words.


Translating to “threshold anxiety,” this German word sums up the fears that are present before you enter somewhere new—like a theater or an intimidating cafe—and by extension going anywhere unfamiliar. The fear of crossing a threshold is normal, even among the most adventurous of travelers—but it often leads to the most unforgettable experiences.


Have you ever seen something so beautiful it made you cry? That’s commuovere in action. The Italian word describes the feeling of being moved, touched, or stirred by something you witness or experience.


This Danish word refers to a warm feeling of contentedness and coziness, as well as the acknowledgement of that feeling. Although not explicitly related to this term, author Kurt Vonnegut summed up the idea behind this concept quite nicely when he said, “I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.'"


Here's one for those who have a beach trip coming up. Taken from Kwangali, a language spoken in Namibia, hanyauku is the act of tiptoeing across hot sand.


A patch of wild strawberries

This Swedish word translates to something along the lines of “place of wild strawberries,” but its metaphorical meaning is something along the lines of a "happy place." Whether it’s a hidden overlook of the city or your favorite vacation spot that hasn’t been “discovered” yet, smultronställe refers to those semi-secret places you return to time and time again because they’re special and personal to you.


This Old English word describes what might happen when you visit a place like Pompeii or a ghost town. While reflecting on past civilizations, you realize that everything will eventually turn to dust. A cheery thought.


In some Spanish dialects, the word vacilando describes someone who travels with a vague destination in mind but has no real incentive to get there. In other words, the journey is more important than the destination. As John Steinbeck described it in his travelogue Travels With Charley: “It does not mean vacillating at all. If one is vacilando, he is going somewhere, but doesn't greatly care whether or not he gets there, although he has direction. My friend Jack Wagner has often, in Mexico, assumed this state of being. Let us say we wanted to walk in the streets of Mexico city but not at random. We would choose some article almost certain not to exist there and then diligently try to find it.”


Backpackers and budget travelers, this one is for you: The Hebrew word lehitkalev translates to “dog it” and means to deal with uncomfortable living or travel arrangements.


Sun shining in the woods

This beautiful Japanese word is a good one to save for a sunny day spent in the woods. Komorebi translates to “sunshine filtering through the leaves.” Does it get any lovelier than that?

28. RAMÉ

This Balinese word refers to something that is simultaneously chaotic and joyful. It isn’t specifically a travel word, but it does seem to fit the feelings that are often awakened by travel.


Translating to a “lucky find,” this French word can be applied to that cool cafe, flower-lined street, or quirky craft store that you stumbled upon by chance. Indeed, these are the moments that make travel worthwhile.


Just in case you needed another reason to plan that trip to Yosemite, here's one last word for nature lovers. The Sanskrit word ullassa refers to the feelings of pleasantness that come from observing natural beauty in all its glory.

Win a Trip to Any National Park By Instagramming Your Travels

If you're planning out your summer vacation, make sure to add a few national parks to your itinerary. Every time you share your travels on Instagram, you can increase your chances of winning a VIP trip for two to the national park of your choice.

The National Park Foundation is hosting its "Pic Your Park" sweepstakes now through September 28. To participate, post your selfies from visits to National Park System (NPS) properties on Instagram using the hashtag #PicYourParkContest and a geotag of the location. Making the trek to multiple parks increases your points, with less-visited parks in the system having the highest value. During certain months, the point values of some sites are doubled. You can find a list of participating properties and a schedule of boost periods here.

Following the contest run, the National Park Foundation will decide a winner based on most points earned. The grand prize is a three-day, two-night trip for the winner and a guest to any NPS property within the contiguous U.S. Round-trip airfare and hotel lodging are included. The reward also comes with a 30-day lease of a car from Subaru, the contest's sponsor.

The contest is already underway, with a leader board on the website keeping track of the competition. If you're looking to catch up, this national parks road trip route isn't a bad place to start.


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