Saturday, January 24, 2009

Why Trust A Shark?

We made the epic trek to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach today. It was another rainy day and we decided to go big with the girls. It was a bit of a trial driving all that way (86 miles) and of course we hit some traffic even though it was a Saturday.

The aquarium was pretty cool - lots of neat tanks with fish from all over the place. They also had seals and sea lions and the obligatory but always enjoyable sea otters. The layout wasn't that great (lots of enclosed spaces, no good views of the ocean outside, non-intuitive wayfinding) and they seem to have some issues with staying on the mission (they were hosting a festival of Americans' with Disabilities- great topic but totally unrelated to oceans, and had displays of lorikeets and poison arrow frogs...).

I thought the neatest part was the big shark tank. They had five or six different kinds of sharks in this big sandy bottom tank. The sharks were are all pretty big and regularly swam by and underwater viewing window so you could see them close up. They even had one of those weird saw fish that I have seen pictures of but never seen in person before.

The most striking thing about all of the sharks was how unimpressive their teeth were. Having seen many shark skeletons and pictures of sharks, and having seen Finding Nemo ten thousand times (it is Lucy's current favorite movie), I expect sharks to have big and impressive teeth. But you could actually see most of the sharks teeth in this exhibit and they weren't that scary. Mitch explained that many of the sharks in the exhibit actually eat things like mollusks and crabs so they use their jaws for crushing and not ripping flesh. There was one guy with pretty impressive teeth (pictured above) that is a sand tiger shark. Lucy and her other squealing little girl friends called it the scary shark. I was impressed by how many of the sharks, including the Zebra shark (pictured here) looked perfectly benign.

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