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Under the Sea!

Turns out the Georgia Aquarium is only three blocks from the Chinese restaurant we frequently visit during Dragoncon! Huzzah! We ended up spending about two hours at the aquarium. There were five exhibits areas: Cold Water Quest, River Scout, Georgia Explorer, Ocean Voyager, and Tropical Diver.

Shark!! Shark!!
Very, very tiny shark. We didn't have to call on John Barrowman for help with this.
Monkeys petting a Sting Ray Monkeys petting a Sting Ray
They felt really cool! When you were touching them they felt slimy, but when you looked at your fingers afterwards there wasn't any slime trail. The sting rays were so nice! They would actually swarm up to you as if they wanted to be petted. One even headbutted me!!

My favorite aspect of the exhibits are the tanks where you get to touch the animals. I got to pet a sting ray, horseshoe crab, conch, sea urchin, starfish, and sea anemone. Monkeys also got to pet a shark and a shrimp. The sea anemone was particularly fun. You are supposed to just barely touch the tips of your fingers to their wiggling appendages; then, once you make contact, you are to slowly pull your fingers away. The anemone will try to stick to your fingers, as if to pull them down to its mouth. When I didn’t react the first time I tried it both John and the anemone wrangler looked confused and had me try a different one. The second time I giggled profusely; it’s a funny tingly feeling.

The habitats and décor (waterfalls, mossy tree limbs, etc) were really pretty; more than once we took a picture of a tank as inspiration for Shelby’s terrarium at the house. I really want to set up a fish tank now!

The Belugas were relocated due to construction, so we didn’t get to see them. There was a little girl, maybe four or five, who was completely heartbroken by their absence. She was inconsolable in her mother’s arms, giant sobs racking her body and echoing through the cavern exhibit leading up to where the whales normally stay. Apparently she’d been talking about coming to see the whales for days, poor thing. The guide for the exhibit kept apologizing and explaining it was for the whales' safety and that she can come again, but that means nothing to a five year old whose dreams have been crushed. It sounds bad to say it, but it was actually a really sweet moment other than the fact she was so unhappy.

The otters were sleeping, so we didn’t get to watch them playing around, but they were still incredibly cute, as were the penguins. Some of the sea creatures were beyond bizarre looking. It’s as if going underwater is going to another planet. My favorites were the really strange looking (octopus, jellyfish, worms and tubelike creatures) and the really colorful (tropical fish, frogs).

The coolest non-touching exhibit was the giant tank holding the whale sharks and larger fish. You can walk under it and look up, which is a little freaky. We happened to get there just in time to watch the feeding. The whale shark’s mouth opens three feet wide, but its throat is only the size of a quarter, so it feeds on krill. We watched from below, but there were cameras outside and above the tank, so we could also see the boats traveling across the top of the tank trailing food buckets. The sharks would follow the buckets, opening their maws and creating a vortex sucking in the krill and potentially an unfortunate larger fish who may be trying to scavenge some of the krill for itself. The guide explained that any such unfortunate fish would escape through the shark’s gills.

We brought JoCo along with us on this trip, which turned out to be even more fun because not only did we have a good time taking pictures of him posing in various bizarre locations, the people around us enjoyed him as well. More than once we overheard conversations of people trying to figure out what we were doing with the bear (some theories were 1) a flat Stanley project for a niece *or* 2) our own child couldn’t make it so we brought his bear). Best of all, if we put Joco into a particularly clever photo-op we would draw appreciative comments and laughs. I think the Japanese crab shot was the biggest audience pleaser. My favorite may be the time a diver who was cleaning the inside of a tropical fish tank stopped in his work to pose in our shot and point at JoCo.

I was amazed by how many employees the aquarium had. Each touch tank had two wranglers plus there was at least one wondering guide in each exhibit to answer questions. Additionally, there were divers cleaning tanks, people wandering around the main floor with clipboards, security, at least three information booths with multiple staff members, a gift shop, a café, and whoever was in the boat feeding the sharks. That was just inside, that’s not counting all the ticket booth, administration, and entrance people. It was really nice having so many smiling and encouraging faces, but it must cost a fortune to run that operation. Oh – and full props to said operation. I lost my glove within five minutes of entering (took it off to pet a sting ray), but thanks to some wonderful employees I was able to retrieve it from lost and found. The Aquarium rocks!

If you go - know there is a discount ticket for buying a combo Aquarium/Coke Museum tick - we saved maybe $14 bucks. Also, If you are staying near Peachtree street, you can save money on parking by walking - it's a big hill, but paved and easy to walk. Better still, no stress over worrying about your car being safe or managing traffic.

Click below to see pictures from JoCo Bear’s trip to the Georgia Aquarium. 1/16/10 Saturday morning.
JoCoGo LJ picture post


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 20th, 2010 01:46 am (UTC)
Cool! Now I wanna go!! Sad I missed it at D'con, but they did provide the 'discount' tickets at a bad time ... wasn't it opposite the masquerade or something?
Oh, and LOVE the cute MadLadyRed mermaid icon! =o)
Jan. 20th, 2010 02:00 am (UTC)
The mermaid one was made special by toocuteicons - every so often she'll put out an offer for personalized icons.

When I put in my request for mine, I also put in a request for you. It has a bluebird like your crazy eyed blue bird figures you got us that one time and a horse from your sign language class when you were going to say "i like horses" but someone else took it. :D

You don't have to use it! No pressure! But if you wanted to use it - it's by TooCuteIcons :)


Jan. 20th, 2010 02:06 am (UTC)
Love it love it LOVE IT!!! So adorable!
Thanks so much for requesting that for me!

<3 <3 <3
Jan. 20th, 2010 02:04 am (UTC)
Yes - it was opposite the masquerade and I think we didn't want to risk missing the pirate party or the mad scientist ball? But based on our trip, it only takes about five or ten minutes to walk there, you can see the whole thing in about 2 hours, and it's open from 9 am to 6 pm, so it seems highly doable for a Thursday afternoon.
Jan. 20th, 2010 02:06 am (UTC)
Woot! I'd love to do that sometime!! AND the coke museum. I'm very interested to see how it differs from the old coke museum.
Jan. 20th, 2010 02:32 am (UTC)
If I remember right they had it all weekend actually. That's why Rowan and I were planning the trip. But Toaster was the only other one who wrote back saying they were interested so we just forgot the idea in favor of sticking with a larger group of friends. =P

I REALLy wanna go. I love aquariums. But they're not really Imran's thing. *sigh* Ah well.
Jan. 20th, 2010 02:53 am (UTC)
oh - when I read the email I interpreted it as a set visit scheduled for Sunday night and that they would provide buses so that people didn't have to walk. I even got the idea they would have appetizers! mmmmmm! but I could have easily misunderstood because I knew I wasn't going to do it regardless so I probably did not read it carefully. I'm kind of wonky about the convention - I hate leaving because I'm convinced I'll miss something! LOL! so even if it had been any time during the weekend instead of just the one night I wouldn't have been able to drag myself away. :D yeah - obsessed am i... Both Monkeys and I have often talked about going up a day early or coming back a day late and doing the aquarium then. :D
Jan. 20th, 2010 11:37 pm (UTC)
We wanted to do the aquarium... I was so pissed we didn't make it.

We have an aquarium "near" us. By near I mean... 4 hours or so. We head to Seward occasionally just for SNGs and one time we went. It was a heck of a lot of fun and the touch tank was AWESOME. The only thing I didn't like was how flipping COLD the water was.

As for Beluga's.... We have them here. It's pretty cool seeing them in a pod. Little bumps of pure white.
Jan. 20th, 2010 02:57 am (UTC)
It was a lot like the old museum, but there was an awesome stupid 4D movie, another cute movie, and a few more exhibits/objects. We spent two hours in there, too!
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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