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Four places to find sea life in the desert that is Vegas

Four places to find sea life in the desert that is Vegas
Jellyfish draw the attention of a young visitor at the SeaQuest Interactive Aquarium in Las Vegas. The aquarium interprets marine habitats around the world. (SeaQuest Interactive Aquarium)

Just because Vegas is a desert town doesn't mean you won't find plenty of sharks (not just card sharks), stingrays, tropical fish, jellyfish and other creatures. Sea life abounds along the Strip and beyond, if you know where to go.

Here are places where kids or burned-out gamblers can take a quick trip to the ocean.

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A pair of dwarf lionfish swim through Pirate's Cove at SeaQuest.
A pair of dwarf lionfish swim through Pirate's Cove at SeaQuest. (SeaQuest Interactive Aquarium)
1. SeaQuest Interactive Aquarium

This aquarium breathes new life into a 50-year-old shopping mall in the city. More than 30 themed exhibits allow visitors to experiences ecosystems such as the Amazon rain forest, a Caribbean cove, the Egyptian desert and a Mayan jungle.

As its name implies, SeaQuest encourages guests to interact with marine animals, which includes feeding sharks and stingrays.

SeaQuest is open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays. Tickets cost $14.95 for visitors 12 and older, $9.95 for kids ages 2 to 11.

Info: SeaQuest Interactive Aquarium, the Boulevard Mall, 3528 S. Maryland Parkway; (702) 906-1901

Located a couple of miles east of the big resorts, the Boulevard is hoping to generate new vitality with nonshopping attractions, such as SeaQuest and the Hispanic Museum of Nevada.

While seated in recliners, visitors to Polar Journey in the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay travel beneath polar ice caps to discover the frigid regions' changing environments.
While seated in recliners, visitors to Polar Journey in the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay travel beneath polar ice caps to discover the frigid regions' changing environments. (MGM Resorts)
2. Polar Journey/Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay

This interactive aquarium features a new Polar Journey experience. Visitors recline and watch a dome screen above to travel to the ice caps of Antarctica and to the Arctic to view wildlife.

Admission costs $25 for adults and $19 for children ages 4 to 12. The show remains until February 2018. It's open 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays to Thursdays, 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Info: Shark Reef Aquarium and Polar Journey, 3950 S. Las Vegas Blvd.; (702) 632-4555

3. Silverton Aquarium Las Vegas

The 117,000-gallon aquarium at the Silverton hotel-casino a few miles south on Las Vegas Boulevard has been called the city's best free attraction.

The tank, located just inside the main entrance, is home to thousands of tropical fish as well as sharks and stingrays. Visitors can catch different activities at different times of the day, such as feeding time and "mermaid" swims. (Swimming mermaids perform on a schedule.)

Info: Silverton Aquarium Las Vegas, 3333 Blue Diamond Road; (702) 263-7777

While waiting in line at the check-in counter at the Mirage, guests can be soothed by watching tropical fish swim behind employees.
While waiting in line at the check-in counter at the Mirage, guests can be soothed by watching tropical fish swim behind employees. (MGM Resorts)
4. The Mirage

Guests at the Mirage check in while facing a 20,000-gallon saltwater tank filled with 85 different specifies of fish.

The aquarium features a coral reef that's cleaned two or three times a day by in-house staff who dive in with scuba gear. You'll find the tank in the lobby, which is open to the public.

Info: The Mirage Aquarium, 3400 S. Las Vegas Blvd.; (702) 791-7111

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