Penguin time!
Saturday January 06th 2007, 9:12 pm
Filed under: Non-Knitting

My son Richard had a friend flying into town for a visit over the break, and we took her to the Monterey Bay Aquarium to show her the sights. We’ve been there many a time, but it’s always evolving and never the same twice. And: they had a Great White shark to go see. The first one that ever survived captivity was the first one they had, till it outgrew the place and they let it go into the outer bay.

Let me tell you about that new shark. It’s huge. I have never before seen the cleaning crew at work on the huge Outer Banks exhibit. Picture two large people swimming on the floor of the tank, sweeping it with giant squeegees. Now picture a third, swimming above them, occasionally waving hi to the crowd but mostly looking out for that Great White: he’s holding a long pole with a large loop at one end and a giant rubber Q-tip thing at the other end. All three swimmers are wearing chain mail.

A sunfish comes a little too close to the guy. Sunfish are these truly strange creatures where God forgot to add on the rest of the body after the head: just behind the bulging bug eyes, there’s this sort-of-a tail–more like a downward arc with giant silver beads attached. The thing wasn’t the 5000 pounds they can get to be, but it was big enough, and it actually leaned into the window a bit right above our heads. Showoff. Keep an eye on that Great White…

It being a Saturday, there was a large crowd, and all the sudden a collective loud gasp and breathcatching happened; I didn’t see it. But I saw that pole in return midswing and the shark swimming off.

The penguin exhibit: there were two keepers in there, and one had a shivering bird in her lap–shivering, or, it looked like me when I was having my seizures. She stroked it, and gradually it relaxed and held still. Another penguin was going, me? Me?? She handed the first to the next keeper, who stroked it under its chin like a kitten, and then the back of its neck. The bird was clearly feeling, ooh aah. Right there–yeah, you got it. Yessss. Bliss. Meantime, the second penguin waddled right up into the first keeper’s lap to be stroked. My turn!

The giant kelp forest tank had a diver coming in to feed the fish just as we were about to leave, so we watched. The leopard sharks–scratch that, I just looked at their site, I guess it was wolf eels, which makes more sense–did an elaborate, lithe, figure-8 dance, curving and curling around each other, the diver, each other again, the diver, and he held out his hand with a good-sized morsel to one: chomp! Kevlar. No chain mail here, but he had to have had kevlar gloves on. He did it for the next one; again, right out of his hand.

I snapped a photo on our way out of that tall kid again…

4 Comments so far
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Your son is So. Tall. Wow!
Glad you had a nice visit.
Reminded me of the time we went to the New England Aquarium with the kids and my son’s favorite were the penguins. 🙂

Comment by Karin 01.07.07 @ 10:14 am

Do you know, a year in San Jose, and I never made it to the Aquarium. I’m a sillyhead.

And I love penguins. I was always fond of them, and then I saw March of the Penguins, and now I’m totally gonzo for them.

Comment by Kristine 01.07.07 @ 1:46 pm

I adore the penguins. One of the docents once told me that the teenage ones will latch onto a visitor as their favorite person and copy everything they do, and the first time we saw the penguins, one of them latched onto me like that. It was absolutely the most charming thing you could imagine. It was very hard to tear myself away (actually, I didn’t, my family finally did.)

And Karin–I sometimes look at Richard and think, you know, kid, I used to be bigger than you… !

Comment by AlisonH 01.07.07 @ 6:17 pm

Ooooh! We’ve gotta take the kids down there on one of our vactions.

Comment by Michelle 01.07.07 @ 6:33 pm

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