I am currently in Atlanta attending a meeting all about viruses, in particular HIV. There has been one key discovery that is already making waves, and to be amongst 4000+ other scientists during these moments is its own kind of awesome (in the literal sense of that word). To kick off the week’s events, the conference organizers held a welcome reception at the Georgia Aquarium, housed just next door to the conference center. In some ways, this seemed a very apt choice – although the ocean is vast, expansive and viruses are certainly the opposite – our limited understanding of the landscapes, ecosystems and biology of the sea mirrors our lack of detailed knowledge regarding the microscopic events occurring in our own bodies, especially when under attack by pathogenic viruses. Or maybe I am reading between the lines a bit too much and they just wanted us to enjoy one of the best aquariums in the country. Either way, it was so much fun. I could have stayed for many more hours than we were allotted.
The aquarium is divided into several thematic exhibits and we traveled through each completely, one-at-a-time. This set-up was quite helpful in developing a more complete picture of each ecosystem on display. Enough words, here are the photos:
Cold Water Quest – the spider crabs were fantastic, all poised to attack those of us beyond the wall of glass. I included the photo with the spectator reflections so you could get an idea of their size! Sad that my dolphin and beluga whale photos did not turn out so well…
River Scout – this exhibit included the first of the overhead fish tanks. These are my absolute favorite (you don’t want to know how many photos I have of fish bellies). Plus, albino alligators. Enough said.
Tropical Diver – in case you were wondering, none of these photos have been altered from the color on display in each tank.
Frogs – A Chorus of Color – unfortunately some of the more colorful ones were asleep already.
Ocean Voyager – the pièce de résistance was this exhibit, made of a single, enormous tank housing several species of sharks, rays and – most impressively – four whale sharks. We walked around the tank and had views from small windows, a glass-enclosed under-tank tunnel and from a 60 foot glass viewing room – complete with tiered seating. It was tremendous and our last stop for the night… the staff who had stayed late to accommodate our group had to harass the last of us to leave this magical place.