July 10, 2008
While on tour i stopped by the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago with matt and donna. we didn’t have a lot of time, only about 45 minutes before they closed. i am (or rather, can be under circumstances like this) sort of a motivated and focused zoo-goer, and i knew a little about this aquarium, so i quickly figured out what i had to see.
first we went down to the Wild Reef. i LOVE coral and anemones are nice but i sort of flew through the first part of this section (which had some very cool little moments, like this little window on the ceiling that looks into one of the tanks) in order to get to the glass shark wall. five inches of glass floor to ceiling is all that separates you from the animals. this is a fantastic exhibit.
there are two dozen sharks in this tank, comprised of three species; sandbar, black tipped reef and zebra sharks, and lots of yellow fin jack and other schooling fish. it was one of those situations where you expect to see some carnage descend upon the tuna at any point. there were also a bunch of rays that you looked down upon through a glass walkway.
the Shedd seemed like a pretty comprehensive aquarium, with a whole bunch of exhibits about non-oceanic bodies of water. we didn’t have time to look through all these but i did stop to see the alligator snapping turtle which is one of my favorite turtles.
we had to press on to the “Oceanarium” where the first thing we saw was one of their five sea otters. he was diving and chewing on a clamshell. then he disappeared before i could take a photograph. the otter view area is ok. the otter is completely sealed off with glass, which i like less, but it had surface and underwater viewing which is good.
the amphitheater looked pretty amazing, and next time i’m in chicago i will have to come see a dolphin show. there were a bunch of pacific white-sided dolphins swimming around and possibly breaching and doing acrobatics (we watched from below the surface). i’m not sure when the last time i saw a dolphin was.
next was the penguin rookery. lots of gentoos and the sign said rockhoppers but i think i was too entertained by this one guy to really look too hard for them.
then the final coup de gras was the belugas. there were so many and they were huge.
there was a mom and new calf, miki, born in august of last year. there are some great pictures at the Shedd site. i could have watched these whales for at least another hour, but we got pushed towards the exit because it was closing time. i hate closing time at the zoo/aquarium, i hate when “rushed” is the feeling i leave with. it’s such a sour note. but all in all – Shedd gets a thumbs up.
donna’s house was home to some wild animals too. like this crawfish
and this adorable/hammy cat, dandelion