Monday, May 22, 2006


So I know I haven't been updating in a while. For the last three weeks I have been kind of homeless. I moved out of my place at the end of April, and for the first two weeks of May I was living in Key Largo at NURC for work. We had the internet there, but I didn't get on very often. Anyway, I have some pictures I attempted to take in the mangroves on my last day working. I apologize for their poor quality but it was my first time trying to use a close-up lens (not a macro) and also the water was shallow and stirred up easily.

This was my attempt at one of those cool pictures you see in National Geographic that are half under and half out of the water. As you can see, I am not good at it, but I think it has as much to do with the equipment I was using ( a point and shoot 35mm).

Mangrove snappers, there's also a couple grunts in the bottom lefthand corner, again this is blurry mostly bc of me but the fish were pretty active.

A blue crab, pretty big guy too.

This is a lookdown in the mangroves...

And just in case, on my journey back to the North, I stopped at 3 aquariums.
First, I stopped in Atlanta at the Georgia Aquarium, which is very impressive. They have numerous huge tanks that you get to see from all sorts of angles, including underneath! The large barrier reef tank was awesome, I sat there for about 20 minutes. They fed the fish while I was there and all the fish came out from the reef. And of course, the whale shark tank, probably the coolest thing I have ever seen. There are so many fish in that tank its amazing. The plexiglass is like 2 feet thick, and it has a movie theater sized viewing window which is awesome. You could sit there for hours if there weren't so many people. They have some coldwater exhibits, with otters and seals and sea lions, and beluga whales. They also have a freshwater section, which was cool. When you first walk in there is a nice big African cichlid tank. The coolest freshwater exhibit though was this huge tank of river fish with gars and sturgeon and the like that pretty much goes all around you, up over your head, on both sides, incredible.They also have a Georgia native section, which I think is lacking.Plus they have more touch tanks than I have ever seen. I do however have a few knocks: way too much empty space (yes they have the biggest tanks in the world, fine, but so much more could be done); they have an upstairs with nothing (no displays); their native Georgia section, in my opinion, sucks (no salt marshes? ); also some of the fish in the displays weren't in the best condition (the yellowtail snapper in the whale shark tank all looked sickly and in the fw section the discus and angels looked in pretty rough shape as well) It is definitely worth the trip
I next visited the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher ( there are 3 small aquariums in North Carolina). It was just remodeled and despite its small size, it was very impressive. So much attention to detail was paid, it was incredible. The best thing about it is it deals primarily with natives, and it has outdoor nature walk through a botanical garden and pond. You cant expect too much when you go to these small aquariums, but they are definitely worth the time. They are usually not crowded, so you can see everything.
Finally, I stopped into the National Aquarium at Baltimore. Now this, this was incredible. It's hard to explain it here but I will try. It's built up, not out, but it has 3 buildings. Anyway, you start on the 1st floor (which is actually the second floor) and you are at the surface of their huge ray tank. Basically this place is six stories high and you walk along this path viewing all the tanks along the outside loop of the aquarium. They have more educational stuff, the first "section" you get to is all about adaptation, so you see fish in different environments, with different techniques for feeding and survival. There are small and large tanks here so you can really see everything. Then you go up to native Maryland fish, from upstream freshwater, down to marshes, seagrass beds in coastal lagoons and the ocean. This was cool. (I always like a good marsh display) Then you journey to the Pacific, you see coldwater kelp forest with this awesome california sheephead, which you need to check out that picture. Then reef tanks. Next you go to the Amazon River Basin (this tank is awesome), a display with trees and water up about halfway. They have caiman, tons of turtles, big pacus, other various characins, uarus, severums, festivums, geophagus, schools of bleeding hearts, cardinals, rummynose. It's absolutley an amazing tank. Huge catfish. I can't even list it all. Then you go around the corner to see an awesome discus tank. Next you go to the top level which is a greenhouse with all live trees and also serves as an aviary, the upland rainforest. Not only are the birds flying all around and then they have little water displays one with angel fish and one with pirhanas. They also have a sloth and monkeys (although apparently the monkeys were misbehaving so they were put away when I was there). But then you walk down and you are walking down these spiraling ramps on the inside of an Atlantic reef tank, with schools of lookdown and bar jacks, grunts, snappers, surgeonfish swimming around you. And then under that tank is the shark tank with sand tigers, sandbar and nurse sharks. That's just building one!!! They have an awesome frog display in the Dolphin building (I hear the dolphin show is supposed to be good but I don't go see those). And in the third building they have this awesome Australia exhibit again where you walk through this aviary with huge tanks, waterfalls, birds flying around. It's too much to describe. No wasted space here. As cool as the whale sharks are at Georgia, this aquarium in Baltimore is better in my opinion.

Just in case anyone is wondering, that is now my 14 aquariums visited. Including the three I described above, I have been to the Miami Seaquarium, the Clearwater Aquarium, Florida Aquarium and Seaworld in Florida, the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knolls Shores, Jenkinsons Aquarium at the Jesrey Shore, the New York Aquarium in Coney Island ( I actually worked there for a summer), Atlantis Aquarium in Riverhead, Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut and the New England Aquarium in Boston. Oh and I have also been to the Curacao Seaquarium in Curacao. I want to go see the Shedd in Chi-town and Monterrey.

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