Aquariums are some of my favorites places to visit. I think I get more excited to see the animals than any of the kids there. And the great thing about aquariums is that every visit is a unique experience. I always see at least one new thing. There’s always one fish that stands out to me more than any other and becomes my new obsession. For instance, in 2007, my family and I went to the aquarium in Salt Lake City, where they had triops. I’ve only ever seen triops at this aquarium. You could buy a “triops kit” from the gift store to grow your own, though. So I did. Sadly, while these things are supposed to be resilient and typically grow in stagnant pools of water, mine kept dying. I guess I wasn’t meant to have an exotic pet fish.
Fast-forward to the summer of 2014, and my family and I visited the new, remodeled SLC aquarium. I’m pretty sure that was the first time I’d seen seahorses (alive, not deep fried on a stick at the Beijing night market). Or even if I had seen seahorses before, I’d never watched them “court” each other. So that was pretty cool. There was also some spider/crab thing hanging out in an upside-down jellyfish display, stealing food from the other fish and shoveling it into its mouth. It was a very candid and memorable moment.
Later in the year (in fact, just this weekend), my wife and I went to San Francisco and stopped by two different aquariums. The Monterey Bay Aquarium was one of the most impressive ones I’ve seen, possibly more than the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium, which is a huge place of its own. Monterey had a very diverse collection of jellyfish, though, my favorite being the spotted jellyfish (pictured above). They also had sea gooseberries and leaping blennies, both of which are so bizarre, it’s amazing things like this exist in the real world.
But my favorite animal on the trip was at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. A small display that nobody else seemed to really care about featured several spiny lumpsuckers. They’re like cute, little, underwater helicopters. These guys were the marine highlight of the weekend. They were extremely fun to watch. I haven’t had an aquarium of my own since high school, but now I really want one again just to house a couple of lumpsuckers. I’m sure they are a lot of work, though. Hmmmmm. Considering I couldn’t even raise triops correctly, maybe I should pass. Sad face.