Swimming with the fishes

Friday 19 May 2006, 7:24 pm

Today we went to the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, which is billed as the world's largest aquarium. Mary says it is the only aquarium she's been to that meets up to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and probably exceeds it. It did include two large species, the whale shark and the beluga whale.

The aquarium has five sections: ocean, tropical, cold water (arctic), rivers (fresh water), and "Georgia Explorer." The Georgia section included species indigenous to this state, mostly along the coasts. It included a video about whales who calve here. It also had several hands-on exhibits, where the kids can pet shrimp and stingrays.

The whale shark was found in the ocean section, which featured a tunnel through and under the tank. It was fun watching the small fish shadow the large ones, a defense mechanism they use to keep them away from larger predators.

Beluga Whale
The beluga whale, an arctic species, was found in the cold water section, which also included penguins that inhabit South Africa. It also included the curious Leafy Sea Dragons from Australia.

The tropical section included two large tanks of colorful fish, three separate tanks of jellyfish with suitably restful accompanying music, and the clownfish of "Nemo" fame.

The river section included a tank of red piranha, who flew into the fabled frenzy at feeding time. The piranha tank (and several others) has a tunnel where youngsters can get a close-up view (if they are short enough to enter the tunnel). For those of us a little taller, the river section included a simulated river over our heads where we could view the fish from below.

We rate the Georgia Aquarium very highly. It took us about 3-1/2 hours to go through every exhibit. We got out just in time to walk around the corner to the CNN building, where we were able to take the last studio tour of the day. We were able to see the a mock-up control room, a mock-up studio, and two real newsrooms. I thought it was mildly interesting how they use color techniques to let a weather person stand in front of blank colored wall that will receive a map background later. It was also fun to watch the anchors speak and see them live on a monitor at the same time. What you see on the TV screen has all kinds of added graphics, logos, etc. and looks very different from the studio setting. Overall, though, we thought the tour was overpriced at $12 per person.

Tomorrow, we had hoped to see the Atlanta Zoo, but it is closing early to prepare for special festivities this weekend, and it won't be worthwhile to go for only half the day. Our other options are to go to a patriotism museum and the large Martin Luther King section of town. I don't think our heart is on either one of those. I'm feeling a lot better today, but Mary thinks she is coming down with something now. We got her medicated right away, so hopefully she'll be over it more quickly than I was.

Our next destination would be Greenville, South Carolina, and from their traveling north if the weather clears up. We hope to go to a Calvary Chapel in Greenville on Sunday.