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The City Journals

SeaQuest Interactive Aquarium Coming to Davis County

Jun 01, 2016 09:25AM ● By Cassidy Ward

By Cassidy Ward | [email protected]

Ogden - “Why is almost every robust healthy boy with a robust healthy soul in him, at some time or other crazy to go to sea?” Herman Melville, Moby Dick.

There is a reason that every doctor’s office has an aquarium in the waiting room. The gentle motion of the water and graceful movements of the fish have a calming effect that serves to distract you from what ails you and the thought of needles to poke you.

There is something instinctual about a love of water. Maybe it’s that it represents a threshold between two worlds, a doorway, so easy to traverse, but leading to an uninhabitable and mostly unknowable place. Maybe it’s some part of our primordial minds reminding us that water means life or the voice of our evolutionary childhood feeling homesick, hearkening back to the murky depths from whence we came almost four billion years ago. 

The next time the sea starts calling you with its siren song, you won’t have to go far. SeaQuest, a new interactive aquarium, is opening up in Davis County, inside the Layton Hills Mall. The facility will offer 20,000 square feet of floor space and house 1500 animals from over 300 species. 

Brad Boyle, owner and chief marketing officer, promises exhibits from around the world including the California coast, the Bahamas, Egypt, the Cayman Islands, the Amazon, and more. What makes SeaQuest stand out amongst other large aquariums is its focus on hands-on learning through interactive experiences. 

“We’re going to have an iguana aviary, if you will, you’ll be able to walk in and there will be 30 or 40 iguanas you’ll be able to go in pet them, play with them. We’ll always have a husbandry staff there making sure things are okay. In that same room, we’re going to have Cayman alligators. You’ll actually be able to feed those using a fishing pole and a wire with fish attached. It’s a soft line with no hook so there is no damage to the animals. There will be an octopus encounter where the octopus will have an open top and they like to play. It’s a Giant Pacific Octopus and you’ll be able to feed crawdads and lobster to him. You can go into the lorikeet aviary and feed them nectar out of your hand. As you go place to place, everything is designed around the idea that people can actually interact with the animals,” Boyle said. 

Most interactive activities can be encountered upon through the use of tokens purchased through SeaQuest. Feeding or interacting with iguanas, alligators, or the Great Pacific Octopus might set you back a few tokens each. In addition, the facility will offer fish pedicures and a 40,000-gallon tank filled with stingrays whom patrons can swim with for an additional charge. 

Most cultural experiences of this caliber gravitate around the Salt Lake area but SeaQuest made a conscious decision to bring their unique brand of aquatic entertainment to Davis County. Boyle, who lives in Bountiful with his family, said that aside from a couple of notable options, Davis County is heavily underserved and there was a market for this kind of attraction north of Salt Lake City. Davis County and Layton City were also quick to jump on the opportunity when approached. 

In addition to providing a slice of the ocean close to home, SeaQuest is partnering with Weber State University, offering an internship program to Zoology and Microbiology students in an effort to provide them with the hands-on experience that will benefit them in their studies and in the job hunt after graduation. 

SeaQuest will be the second large aquarium to set up shop in Utah, after Living Planet Aquarium in Draper but Boyle states there is no competition or bad blood between them. 

“Living Planet is amazing, it’s one of the more beautiful, well-done aquariums we’ve seen anywhere in the world. The difference between us and them is kind of like the difference between The Louvre and a children’s museum. You go to a big beautiful aquarium like Living Planet it’s mostly visual, everywhere it says don’t touch or feed our animals. That’s the way they’re designed, around a very visual experience. Ours is very interactive and more around, please do touch and feed our animals. We don’t look at them as competition, one of the things we love about them is that they’ve introduced so many people to aquatic life over the last few years. It’s just a different experience,” Boyle said.

Currently, SeaQuest resides in a kiosk inside Layton Hills Mall. Visitors can see a small selection of the animals that will reside in the finished facility and get up to date information as construction progresses. SeaQuest is estimated to open late summer of this year and hopes to bring an additional half million visitors to the mall throughout the year. 

More importantly, SeaQuest hopes to have a positive social impact on Davis County by bringing wildlife within arm’s reach and introducing children to animals at a young age. 

“A lot of times people fall in love with animals because they visited zoos and aquariums that introduce you to those animals. Kids will be able to come and see and interact and learn, it makes for a wonderful experience,” Boyle said.

Entry costs begin at $14.95 for adults and $8.95 for children 12 and under. Annual family passes are also available for $149.00, a small price to pay for a brief visit to the sea.