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Nothing says “I love you” like giving your sweetheart the chance to hand-feed a cownose ray, and The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk is making that romantic gesture possible for 10 lucky couples on Sun., Feb. 9.

On the Sunday before Valentine’s Day, The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk is putting a special twist on its behind-the-scenes “Feeding Time” program by offering it only to couples age 18 and older. Participating couples will make the morning feeding rounds with staff – and sometimes help serve the food – prior to the Aquarium’s opening.

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All couples also will go home with a box of specialty chocolates. After they wash their hands.

“Sure, some people might give a diamond to their significant for Valentine’s Day, but few can say that their gift was the experience of hand-feeding a diamondback terrapin,” said Aquarium spokesman Dave Sigworth. 

The Feb. 9 “Valentine’s Feeding Time for Couples” starts at 8:30 a.m.  Couples will feel the vacuuming slurp of hungry rays at the “Shark & Ray Touch Pool,” and go behind the scenes to feed terrapins and horseshoe crabs. They’ll attend a private seal feeding by staff, and also visit the Aquarium’s “fish kitchen” where food is closely inspected and prepared. 

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Highlight of the program is going above the Aquarium’s 110,000-gallon “Ocean Beyond the Sound” exhibit for a thrilling view as staff feeds the 8-and 9-foot sharks prowling and snapping just below the railing. Participants can toss in some bonus food for the sharks, large rays and other fish.

“Roses eventually wilt, but the backstage access during ‘Feeding Time’ creates a lasting memory for anyone who is passionate about the Aquarium and wants to deepen their understanding of the creatures we display and the quality care we provide,” Sigworth said. “It can actually be a very thoughful gift. Plus, you get a delicious box of chocolates.”

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Cost of the “Valentine’s Feeding Time” is $100 per couple ($90 for Aquarium members). Optional Aquarium admission at 10 a.m. is discounted. 

The program is limited to 10 couples. Advance registration is required. Call (203) 852-0700, ext. 2206, or register online at www.maritimeaquarium.org.

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