Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sneak trip to the Georgia Aquarium

I blame my mother. Mmm, perhaps blame is the wrong word. But I think having a fish tank as a child has greatly contributed to my love for aquariums. There is something peaceful about walking through darkened room with blue walls of colored fish. The big tanks are my favorite part: the sunlight twinkling and sparkling through the clear water; large schools of fish darting ahead of lazy circling sharks; eels snaking their way along the sand, and rays winging by.

When I discovered that the Georgia Aquarium is the largest in the world, was only a few blocks from the hotel, and had 4, count them, 4 whale sharks, and a Manta ray, I dashed off to spend a few hours one morning. I had never seen a whale shark or a Manta ray.

With a quick perusal of the map, I headed straight to the Ocean Voyager exhibit. At 6.3 million gallons, this tank was amazing!! I followed the crowd through the clear acrylic tunnel.

I stepped off the people mover to scan the ocean depths looking for a Whale Shark. Someone behind me muttered about it being feeding time. As if on cue, the biggest fish in the seas, glided past.

I was there for the 10:30 feeding. Small rubber dingys were hand pulled across the surface and brightly colored scoops swirled the food in front of the shark. The whale shark sucked in the water and food like a giant vaccuum. Since their throats are only the size of a quarter any fish that gets sucked in can just swim back out.

It was amazing to watch.

The other exhibits are lovely too.

I was particularly struck by the garden eels. When a fish swims by they all slide back into their holes. Then when the cost is clear, out they pop.

And, of course, there were seahorses and jellies, which are always fun. If you want a lot of seahorses, though, you need to go to the Shedd in Chicago. It is another terrific place.

I have to been to loads of aquariums across the country. They all have something a little different. Next time you are traveling check to see if there is an aquarium nearby.

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