Saturday, January 21, 2012

Aquarium of the Americas

It was a little hot and muggy on Saturday, so we decided to cool off by going underwater - at the Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans.

There's only one rule at the aquarium, and we broke it as soon as we got there: don't get eaten by sharks!

OK, you got me. Betty and the kids weren't really eaten by sharks, which is good because we probably would not have gotten a refund on our tickets. We had a great time. Annie was so happy to see her cousin David that they mostly ignored all the displays and just ran around playing tag. For my part, I like to read every line of text on every display (much to Betty's chagrin), so I learned a lot.

For example, did you know that some creatures alive today were also alive at the same time as and/or before the dinosaurs? It's true! Sharks are older than dinosaurs. In fact, "modern sharks" evolved during the Jurassic period. Just don't call any sharks "old-timers" because they really hate that, and will probably try to eat you.

Frogs also lived at the same time as the dinosaurs. Some frogs even ate baby dinosaurs. They also tasted great in dino-frog leg soup.

The Aquarium of the Americas has more than just fish, sharks, frogs, stingrays and obese humans wearing inappropriate clothing which shows off their muffin tops. They also have birds. And not just birds in cages that you can look at... but a new place where birds fly all around you, and you can buy little sticks of food for them so that they'll land right next to you and eat and/or poop on you. My son, Peter, really enjoyed seeing the birds!

And yes, I got pooped on. But don't worry, I played it cool. I just found a place with a lot of people and pushed my way through, making sure to rub my poop-stained shirt all over someone else's back.

My favorite animal at the Aquarium is the Sea Dragon. It's basically an overgrown Sea Horse, but it looks like a dragon.

It reminds me of the dragon from that old Atari game Adventure.

Last fun fact for the day: there's a species of jellyfish (Turritopsis nutricula) that is nicknamed the "immortal jellyfish" - because it never dies. Well, most of them die due to being eaten or by disease, but that's not the point. Once they grow to be really old, they start to grow young again until they form back into a polyp. They're like the Benjamin Buttons of the sea. Then after they're young, they can grow old again. They're effectively immortal (except, again, for being eaten). Maybe science can use this jellyfish to make me immortal or at least change me back into a kid again, because there are some awesome toys out there that I'd like to play with.

Thanks to the great people at the Audubon Institute and Aquarium of the Americas for a great day in New Orleans!

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