Walking Among the Fishes

While we are on the topic of aquariums (check out the post about the Aquarium of the Pacific if you haven’t already), this gives me time to focus on two others that I have visited within the past few years. Even though aquariums can tend to have the same exhibits as each other, they do have some distinct properties based on where they are located that also help to set them apart. You are still bound to learn a lot of new things with each visit!

By the way, here’s a fun fact: “Fish” is used for the plural when referring to a single fish species while “fishes” is used if multiple species are involved. The more you know.

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Shanghai Ocean Aquarium

The Shanghai Ocean Aquarium is located near the Oriental Pearl at Lujiazui and features nine thematic zones in which visitors can explore aquatic animals from regions around the world. The first section that visitors are exposed to is the China Zone that includes creatures such as the Chinese alligator. In the same hall is the Yangtze River Rare Aquatic Animals Exhibition. The aquarium boasts itself as the the only one in the world to have a separate exhibition zone that displays aquatic animals from China.

The other eight thematic zones consist of the South America Zone, Australia Zone, Africa Zone, Southeast Asia Zone, Cold Water Zone, Polar Zone, Sea and Shore Zone, and the Deep Sea Zone. As you descend to the basement for the Deep Sea Zone, you will find the world’s longest underwater tunnel at 155 meters. This tunnel, featuring its own moving walkway, cuts through six underwater zones featuring the coral reef, shark cove, grouper cave, fish tornado, coastal reef, and open ocean.

When I went, the tickets were 135 yuan for adults, which came out to roughly 21 US dollars. It’s open every day of the week from 9 AM to 6 PM, but it also sometimes extends those hours until 9 on special holidays and during the summer. More information can be found on their website at www.sh-soa.com.

Not sure what kind of fish this is, but it’s yellow.

Shaaaaaaaaaaaarks.

The giant gourami can be found in the Southeast Asian zone.

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Aquarium of the Bay

Located near the popular Pier 39, the Aquarium of the Bay exhibits a number of marine animals and plants native to the the San Francisco Bay’s surrounding waters and shores. Aside from the special exhibits, the aquarium features three distinct sections: Discover the Bay, Under the Bay, and Touch the Bay.

Discover the Bay serves as an introduction to some Bay residents and the aquarium as a whole, with garibaldi, anchovies, and an assortment of other fish. Taking the elevator to the Under the Bay section brings visitors closer to jellyfish and denizens who make their homes in habitats from the near shore to deep water. This section circles back towards the elevator, in which visitors make their way up to the Touch the Bay section, a more interactive part of the museum.

In Touch the Bay, visitors are encouraged to touch bat rays, skates, and sharks as well as other animals in the exhibits that make special appearances outside of their displays. When I visited, kids took turns petting a ring snake that a naturalist had brought out. This section also includes terrestrial animals such as chinchillas, hedgehogs, and honeybees so that visitors can learn about other habitats.

Admission was $16.95 for adults, which is actually cheaper than many other aquariums, and the hours vary based on the day and the season, so you can find more information at www.aquariumofthebay.org.

Pacific sea nettles that can be found on the California and Oregon coast.

A yellow tang, which actually isn’t native to the San Francisco Bay.

A bat ray popping out of the water in the touch tank.

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Santa Monica Pier Aquarium

For those who want a cheaper aquarium experience, there is the one at the Santa Monica Pier that asks for a suggested donation of $5. It’s a lot smaller than the others mentioned and really is one big room with fish, but it does give you a general idea of local wildlife that live within and around the Santa Monica Bay. I don’t think I have any pictures because the last time I went was to do an extra credit report for an oceanography class that I took, but if you are already at the pier anyway, why not learn about its denizens? Check out http://www.healthebay.org/santa-monica-pier-aquarium to see what this place as to offer.

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Aquariums are a great way to learn about the ocean without actually having to get in it, so I think everyone should visit one at least at some point in their life. Much of the ocean is still undiscovered, but these institutions help us get a little closer to understanding what lies beyond our shores.

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