This is part 2 of a 2 part post about my very first adventure. Find part 1 here!
I’ve been wanting to visit the Aquarium of the Pacific for years! Ever since I first went to Long Beach – I think it was for the gay pride festival? – I’ve been trying to find an excuse to make the drive down and check it out.
I love aquariums. I LOVE them.
Despite the fact that I have serious reservations about animals being captured from the wild and kept in captivity, I can’t help but relish the chance to see them up close, especially marine life. Maybe it is because I grew up entirely landlocked in North Texas, nowhere near an ocean, but I have always been obsessed with the idea that there is a whole world made up of billions of creatures that exists entirely below the surface of that big blue wet thing.
My excitement was quickly crushed as soon as I walked in.
The aquarium was PACKED. We could barely walk for all the people, the strollers, the children running around. It took ages just to get up to the glass to see what was in each exhibit, and even then there were usually ten other people there with their noses pressed against the glass, taking pictures with their camera phones that they’ll never look at again. I mean seriously, how many blurry pictures of a sea bass does one person need?!
The aquarium is actually pretty big, but it didn’t really feel that way with the masses of people pushing their way through it. However, despite the crowds, we still really enjoyed checking out all the different critters the aquarium housed. There were huge sea bass, tiny reef fish, seahorses, coral, octopi, crabs, penguins…everything under the sun. Or, under the sea, I should say!
There were nice interactive zones where you can pet rays and small sharks, and there was also a nicely sized shark tank with one really toothy fucker I wouldn’t want to meet anyplace where there wasn’t a 4-inch-thick piece of plexiglass between us. I’ll establish this fact early on in this blog’s existence: Sharks are genuinely the thing I fear most in life!
I really loved the sea lion and seal habitat, which you can walk though in a glass windowed walkway, watching as the adorable things dart all around you at full speed, often upside down with apparent grins on their faces. And there was an amazing assortment of sea jellies in the Northern Pacific Gallery. It is amazing how Jellyfish can be so gracefully beautiful while also being incredibly deadly. Its totes amazeballs, yo.
The highlight of the aquarium was obvious, to both us and seemingly to the hundreds of visitors that crowded around it: The Sea Otter Habitat. The 3 sea otters that lived and played in this space were not only the cutest freaking things I’ve ever seen, but they were so amazingly smart! During the sea otter presentation, the trainers entered the habitat, snacks in hand for the sea otters, and we got to check out the few tricks these little furry guys had learned in captivity.
For one thing, sea otters have very useful front paws/claws that have a lot of dexterity, which they use to pull prey off the bottom of the sea and coastal rocks. One otter used its paws to put three colored cups of varying sizes together, smaller ones inside the larger ones, and another one demonstrated the little pouch that every sea otter has under a flap of skin on their chest, in what I guess you can call its armpit. This pouch is used to store food when they are retrieving it off the ocean floor, and it also sometimes holds a rock which they use to break open clams and shellfish to eat.
The little guys were so cute! It is something about their faces I think – they look fun and mischievous, floating on their backs and constantly grooming themselves. I left wanting a pet sea otter! That’s a thing right? No? Damn.
We left the aquarium a little smarter than when walked in, even if we had minor bruises on our elbows from making our way through the crowds all day. I definitely want to revisit it some day when the crowds are thinner. I saw something on a flyer about volunteering there – maybe I could make that into a future adventure.
As we headed to dinner at a local seafood joint (because after watching fish all day, apparently the next most logical thing to do is put some in your belly), I had a few minutes to think back on my first week’s adventure. It wasn’t a very ambitious or dangerous adventure to start with, but I felt good. I’d seen and done things today I hadn’t before. I’d actively sought to check something off of my LA bucket list and I’d had a good time doing it. Even if it wasn’t an incredible, life changing experience, it was definitely more memorable than a day spent sitting on the couch watching crappy TV.
Most importantly, it was a start. It was a taste of what is to come if I keep my commitment to do go on an adventure a week. It is a foundation to build on.
And that is more than I can say I did last week.
Here’s to a strong start!