Friday, February 18, 2011

Albuquerque Aquarium

Better late than never, right?

Last Saturday, Ron and I went to the Albuquerque Aquarium (official name and link ABQ BioPark Aquarium).

We actually went down to Albuquerque Friday evening; I had arranged with the other Night Auditor to cover my shift at the hotel Friday and I'll cover for him another night. I'll save Friday night's adventures for another post, but this one is about Saturday.

The weather was warm and beautiful. It was in the high 50s but felt warmer than that in the sun. It felt like spring. It was almost a shame to go inside to the aquarium, but it was worth it.

This is a quote from the BioPark's web site, "The ABQ BioPark Aquarium takes visitors on a journey down the Rio Grande from Albuquerque to its mouth in the Gulf of Mexico. Fresh water riverine, estuarine, surf zone, shallow waters, coral reefs, open ocean and deep ocean species are represented along the way. Other highlights include an eel tunnel, seahorses, luminous jellies and a 285,000 gallon ocean tank where brown, sandtiger, blacktip and nurse sharks swim alongside brilliantly colored reef fish, eels, sea turtles and open ocean species."

There was a shallow tank with sting rays, Southern sting rays to be specific. They tend to swim in formation, two or three together. Their shape and movement make them seem otherwordly. They're also a little scary (they aren't called sting rays for nothing and once when I was standing in shallow water in Florida three of them charged towards me, swimming in formation). Standing on dry ground next to the tank were two seabirds - a lesser yellowleg and a ruddy turnstone. One of them, I'm not sure which, was a loud, screechy bird, the very definition of raucous.

The next stop was the tall cylindrical tank filled with hundreds of jellyfish of all sizes (with tentacles of all sizes). They're very ghostly, but again, they're scary.

My favorite tank was the 285,000-gallon ocean tank with the sharks, eels, sea turtles, different kinds of fish, and yes, more rays. The sharks are so beautiful and graceful. They probably should seem scary, but they didn't, not in the same way the rays and jellies did. Here's a brief clip of a video Ron took of the blacktip shark.

See what I mean about graceful? Of course I've been fascinated with sharks ever since the movie Jaws came out in 1975. For some reason, I loved that movie; I think the summer it came out, I saw it 12 times, one of those times at the beach. Despite the blood and gore, it was a very funny movie, with funny dialogue.

But I digress.

Another creature I loved to watch in that tank was the sea turtle. Their were two of them - a kemp's ridley turtle and a loggerhead turtle. Here's another video clip Ron took of one of the turtles.

While we were there, two divers went into the tank to feed the rays and turtles. The sharks had been fed earlier; that way, the divers could feed the other creatures without the sharks being all over them. But we were observing behavior for Ron's Harvard class and we noticed that when the divers entered the tank, the blacktip sharks became very excited and swam back and forth near the surface.

We saw more creatures than the ones I've mentioned, but those were the highlights. We had such a great time and we plan to go back again. It's a very impressive aquarium.


Elle said...

What a wonderful trip! Cool that Ron's studies cooincide with a nice trip to Albuquerque and especially to an aquarium. I love aquariums and agree that sharks are somehow less scary than rays...although I wouldn't want to be in the tank with them if they hadn't been fed!Did Ron identify the screechy birds or do you know all those bird names, too?

XO Third in Line

Beth said...

It was the lesser yellowleg.

JamieDedes said...

I missed this when I was there. I will have to check it out if I get the opportunity to go back again. Thanks for including the vids.