Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The rest of our visit to the Georgia Aquarium

For everyone who may have missed Monday's mobile posts, let me explain why this post is a continuation...

Our afternoon at the Georgia Aquarium was plagued with technical difficulties which resulted in a complete loss of mobile blogging and then moved onto some major malfunctions with my camera which means these next photos may or may not be very good depending on your taste.

Taking a breath because that was a very long run-on sentence.

That's pretty much it.

Because I promised in a post below that I wouldn't do what I just did above. ;)

Now that we're caught up, let's move on. Good with you?

Just for Mari and Tink, here is a much better photo of the ceiling mural that greeted us after entering the aquarium.

Notice the beluga whale on the bottom? That was the strange creature that you couldn't figure out!

As I explained in Monday's post, the first gallery we visited was Tropical Diver. Mark and Renee loved this beautiful exhibit filled with jellyfish.

Whoa. Jellies, dude.

After takin' on the jellies, we walked around a dark corner. I realized why it had been designed that way once my eyes focused on what was in front of us. They wanted to surprise us with one of the most incredible living reef exhibits we have ever seen! If my camera had behaved, you would be seeing it right now, too.

Sadly, instead of the jaw dropping view that I had hoped to share, here's a mediocre one.

This exhibit came complete with an overhead crashing wave, and sharks to boot. Just amazing!

And around another bend was...


After hearing all the munchkins yelling, "Nemo!", I truly wonder if Pixar knows how much they have increased awareness of the little orange and white clownfish. Kind of cool to think about, huh?

On to the next gallery, Ocean Voyager. Around the corner from the entrance was a long tunnel. As we began to walk through, it felt as though we were completely surrounded by water. There was sea everywhere, and above us swam a largetooth sawfish.

There were divers, too.

This humphead wrasse was quite amusing. He had a bit of a competitive streak, and seemed to offer a staring contest to anyone who chose to participate.

I don't think he was ready to be kissed by girls, though-LOL!

After making our way through the tunnel, we came around another corner. A little gasp escaped our lips...

Again, not the best photo, but welcome to the Ocean Voyager Theatre. The feature presentation was a gigantic, acrylic viewing window. Here are some facts that we found interesting.

This exhibit was designed specifically to house whale sharks.

Aren't they amazing?

We noticed some more divers in this area, and they seemed to be capturing the moment for posterity.

Every single day, it is so obvious to me that Renee is growing up. But moments like this...

and this...

and of course, this...

remind me that she is still filled with childlike curiosity and wonder.

I hope she stays that way forever.

This giant grouper seems to be whispering in Mark's ear. I think he was telling him that there was so much more to see!

So, on to Coldwater Quest!

Our first stop was the touch tank. It was filled with some of these guys...

But what was this? They were on break?

We didn't mind waiting. If I was an anemone, I would want a break, too.

Mark and Renee waiting...sort of patiently. ;)

Here is Mark in mid-sentence joking about having handcuffs slapped on his wrists if he touched the anemones before their break was over.

It's time!

I don't know who was more excited!

What a strange sensation! When you would gently run your fingers down their tentacles, they would grab onto your fingers. It made us all giggle out loud!


There are giant japanese spider crabs in these waters!

Sigh...I could have watched the beluga whales for hours. Their muscular bodies amaze me, and their expressive faces just make my heart smile. This little girl swam around and around, and often upside down. It was comical and beautiful at the same time.

For more than 15 minutes, she put on an aquatic ballet that seemed choreographed just for us.

It was absolutely mesmerizing. Renee had to snap me out of the moment by reminding me that there was much more for us to learn about and see in the sea. What a funny kid!

Who was around the bend? Sea lions!

We fell in love with sea lions when we visited the NY Aquarium on Coney Island a few years back. I don't know whether it is their whiskery face, those soulful eyes, or the fact that they are so smart!

While chatting with Susan, a sweet and most knowledgeable aquarium employee, we learned that the sea lion area would be closing to make room for the new dolphin exhibit set to open in 2010. Knowing that these sea lions are part of the 4R (rehabilitation, relocation, rescue, and research) program, hearing this news just made me sad.

Look at that face. I bet she is sad, too.

The African black-footed penguins were just what we needed to cheer ourselves up. As we walked up, Renee yelled, "Look! They're hugging!"

This exhibit allows you to get close and personal to a penguin. Just pop your head in to say hello!

I think Mark noticed more than the penguins in that last photo. He spotted 'penguin poop', and lifted Renee up so she could have a better look.

I think she was either laughing, or holding her nose...or quite possibly, both!

As many of you know, my sweet husband is just a little nuts. I mean that in a perfectly nice way, because he sure makes life interesting. I just know he was yelling, "Let me out, let me out!"

And now, just as I knew he would, he is entertaining everyone in the area with a penguin impersonation. Notice the penguin behind him hanging his head in shame.

Are you laughing at him, too? ;)

As we made our way around the walkway, we entered the upper level that looked upon the beluga whales. To our excitement, we were able to capture two of them swimming together. It was beautiful.

Next stop...River Scout.

As we wandered in, we felt like we were walking on the bottom of a river. Not only were there exhibits on all sides, but above us was a flowing river filled with different species of North American fresh water fish.

Didn't I feed Mark earlier? I guess the temptation of catfish was just too much for him to pass up!

These longnose gar have not been lying like Pinocchio. They just have a really long beak and very sharp teeth!

Speaking of sharp teeth, how would you like to get thisclose to a piranha?

First, pay attention to the sign.

Now that you are immersed in their environment, take a look around.

Oh, my. That pirahna is pretty close!

They don't want us...they are headed towards Mommy!

I think Renee and Mark are relieved that I don't taste as sweet as I look! ;)

We like to live on the edge, so we headed over to see these guys.

Yes, the ever elusive american alligator. Renee is amazed at how close she is!

Thank goodness for acrylic. I don't think they could ever do this anywhere else.

Since we had our fill of sharp teeth, we decided to head over to our last exhibit, Georgia Explorer.

This was the most interactive gallery of all. As we entered, we were greeted with a touch pool filled with sting rays and bonnethead sharks. As with the anenome touch tank, these guys were on their break, too.


Getting in position and so full of excitement that she lost her shoes!

Remember, touch gently and with two fingers.

One very happy little girl.

There was also another touch tank filled with horseshoe crabs. Although they were on break (boy-do we ever time things wrong!), there was an amazing staff member that shared lots of information about these interesting creatures. Did you know that they use that sharp looking little tail spike as a directional device?

They also use it to turn themselves over if they accidently get into this position.

And the coolest fact of all is that their blood is blue!

In humans, the oxygen carrying proteins bind with iron molecules and give it its red color. A horseshoe crab's blood is blue due to those proteins combining with copper, instead.

Didn't think you would get a science lesson today, did you? ;)

To top off the afternoon, what could be better than sliding out of a gigantic whale's mouth?

And just like in Walt Disney World, the exit was through the gift shop-LOL!

As we walked outside, our smiles grew as we noticed that the fish (and turtles!) seemed to be following us home.

It was just a wonderful visit. I am so grateful to the aquarium volunteers who offered us the certificates for discounted admission during last week's 'Family Fun Days' at Centennial Park. They may not have realized it, but those certificates allowed us to visit a place we've been dying to see since we've moved to the Atlanta area.

If it were a little more affordable, we would love to visit again. For our family, a visit to the aquarium is more than entertainment. I know that may be hard to believe with all of the silliness going on in the photos above, but it really is an educational tool. Animal conservation is near and dear to our hearts, and the more we learn, the more we can help. =)


Tink *~*~* said...

what an awesome day you guys had! I like the beluga whales too - such personalities! Grouper is my fave fish, but not to look at... oops, did I say that out loud? :D I think I would have loved the tunnel. Thanks for sharing your wonderful day!

Tink *~*~*

MariBy said...

(...laughing at Tink's grouper comment) :D

Mare, thanks for clearing up that it was a beluga whale and I loved the shark photo - that was beautiful! One of your best yet.

Great photos and your post was very interesting and informative. The pics of Miss Renee and Mark in the Penguin 'PopUp' were cute.

A wonderful post...thanks so much for sharing your family's visit to the Aquarium with us. :D

Snowbird said...

Wow, that looks like a fantastic aquarium. We went to the new Nemo exhibit at Epcot today and they have a great one too. Manatees, dolphins, and of course, lots of Nemos and Dorys.