December 16, 2011

A Fort and Fish

Two of Charleston’s classic attractions occupied our day today – a visit to Fort Sumter National Monument and a tour of the South Carolina Aquarium.  Since they’re right next door to one another, it seemed to make a lot of sense to visit those two today and see the historic area of Charleston tomorrow.

I’ve been to Charleston numerous times, but I’d never been to Fort Sumter.  However, since 2011 marks the start of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, and since Tim and I have been visiting so many Civil War sites, we decided that we had to see where the opening shots of the Civil War were fired.  You can only get to Fort Sumter by boat, so we boarded one at Liberty Square.

Fort Sumter National Monument
Fort Sumter was a rather impressive fort in 1861, standing approximately fifty feet in height.  Today’s fort, however, barely resembles the original.  The fort was virtually destroyed during the Civil War, and the interior was filled with a massive concrete structure during the Spanish-American War.  The stabilized ruins, the partial reconstructed walls of the fort and the exhibits do come together to evoke that pivotal moment in American history.  Viewing downtown Charleston from the water was an added bonus of the boat ride.

Parrott Guns

Left-Face Casemate Ruins

Five Flags Have Flown Over Fort Sumter
Next door to the Fort Sumter visitor center is the South Carolina Aquarium, one of the most visited attractions in Charleston.  The aquarium showcases animals from the South Carolina mountain forests and piedmont to the coastal plain, saltmarsh and ocean.  There are really some amazing fish and other critters on exhibit, including a rare albino alligator and Atlantic sea nettles.  I wouldn’t want to see them in the wild, but they were fascinating to see up close in a tank.

Albino Alligtator from the Coastal Plain

Atlantic Sea Nettles from the Ocean

A Pelican in the Saltmarsh
One of the main features of the aquarium is the Great Ocean Tank, a two-story tank that contains hundreds of animals, including sharks, pufferfish and a loggerhead sea turtle.  As we made our way to the lower ocean gallery, we stumbled upon a special holiday program on the Twelve Days of the Great Ocean Tank.  Although the program was primarily designed for children, Tim and I had fun watching Scuba Claus swimming with the fish.  What a hoot!  The aquarium is definitely worth a visit.

Loggerhead Sea Turtle and Fish in the Great Ocean Tank

Scuba Claus in the Great Ocean Tank

South Carolina Aquarium

Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge Over the Cooper River

1 comment:

  1. Boy, that Santa is everywhere these days!!! ha LV