Georgia Aquarium, along with 19 other accredited aquariums, has been nominated by a panel of experts for USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice 2017 Awards! The nominated aquariums are all accredited by the Association for Zoos and Aquariums, and represent the best in the U.S. for their high quality, exhibits, and visitor interactions. Participants can vote once per day, per device, until the contest ends Monday, March 27 at 11:59 a.m. Vote here: http://bit.ly/VoteforGaAquarium

Here are 10 reasons why Georgia Aquarium is one of the 10Best:

10. We are the largest aquarium in North America

Georgia Aquarium is one of the world’s largest aquariums, and is the largest aquarium in North America! We have more than 10 million gallons in more than 100 habitats. We also have one of the most abundant collections of aquatic life anywhere, featuring four whale sharks, four manta rays, and thousands of fish.

9. A portion of your ticket goes directly to our research and conservation efforts

As a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization, we rely on the support of our community to make sure we can continue our groundbreaking research initiatives and conservation efforts. A portion of each ticket purchased is directly donated to those efforts, allowing us to continue to make a positive impact on the health and welfare of aquatic life around the world.

8. Seven of our California sea lions are rescues!

We are a proud and continued supporter of sea lion rescue and conservation efforts! Seven of the sea lions that call Georgia Aquarium home were rescued due to the Unusual Mortality Event (UME) that is occurring off the coast of California. This leaves sea lion pups malnourished, emaciated, underweight, and in need of care. Stranding centers along the California coast are vital in helping rescue and rehabilitate these animals. However, when some sea lions are deemed non-releasable, we’re proud to offer a forever home.

7. We’ve educated more than one million students about our ocean

In 2016, we welcomed our one-millionth student educated at Georgia Aquarium since 2005. Our educational experience is an opportunity for students to discover the aquatic realm in an immersive learning environment. We strive to make the experience an extension of the classroom.

6. We’ve supported rehabilitation for more than 2,200 veterans in our Veterans Immersion Program

This unique program gives military personnel who have been physically, emotionally or mentally wounded, the opportunity to SCUBA dive or swim in the 6.3-million-gallon habitat, Ocean Voyager Built by The Home Depot. We are committed to serving the brave men and women who have served our country. The Veterans Immersion Program is supported by our dive staff, which has the largest team of Handicapped SCUBA Association Certified Dive Masters and Instructors in the world, all led by a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist.

5. You can swim or dive in our 6.3-million-gallon habitat, Ocean Voyager Built by The Home Depot

Journey with Gentle Giants is the only opportunity in the world where you are guaranteed to swim with whale sharks, the largest fish in the world, in Georgia Aquarium's Ocean Voyager Built by The Home Depot. Not only will you share a habitat with whale sharks, but you will also be surrounded by manta rays, zebra sharks, and thousands of other fish! A portion of the proceeds from this program support our research and conservation efforts.

4. We have hatched more than 25 endangered African penguins

Since 2012, we have hatched more than 25 penguin chicks as part of the Species Survival Program (SSP)! African penguins are listed as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List, and we are proud to support several research and conservation efforts for this species. Not only do we help aid in the breeding of this species at home, but we also aid through a partnership with the South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) in their native South Africa.

3. Our researchers have participated in more than 100 research projects

As a leader in marine research, Georgia Aquarium contributes to the advancement of knowledge by studying animals here at the Aquarium and in their natural environment. Since opening, members of the Aquarium’s research team have participated in more than 100 research projects and authored more than 130 peer-reviewed publications. Our researchers collaborate with scientists around the world so we may help conserve it for generations to come.

2. We have one of the largest volunteer bases in a zoo or aquarium – more than 1,300!

From performing tests in the Water Quality Lab to assisting children with arts and crafts during Toddler Time, there are many opportunities to lend a helping hand. Our volunteers have dedicated more than 1.6 million hours since 2005! Combined, our volunteers speak a total of 14 languages ranging from Tagalog to Russian.

1. And…Georgia Aquarium is the only place in North America you can see whale sharks and manta rays!

Our whale sharks and manta rays can be seen in our 6.3-million-gallon Ocean Voyager Built by The Home Depot gallery! We are home to four whale sharks, two males and two females, as well as four manta rays. Whale sharks are the largest fish in the world, and little is known about the species. Our researchers have a unique opportunity to study this magnificent species right here at home. Our team has completed some of the first whale shark blood draws, and our collaboration with Emory University led to the first ever fully mapped shark genome.

Don’t forget to vote for Georgia Aquarium for “Best Aquarium” in USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Travel Awards! Vote once a day until March 27th at http://bit.ly/VoteforGaAquarium.