"" Writer's Wanderings: In My Backyard - The Cleveland Aquarium

Friday, January 27, 2012

In My Backyard - The Cleveland Aquarium

The winter doldrums truly set in on a gray cloudy day in Cleveland that defines the term dreary. Rather than sit inside and wish for a peek at the sun that wasn't going to happen, we set off for the new Cleveland Aquarium that just opened on January 21, 2012.

To our surprise, it was better than expected. We have been in several aquariums around the world and this one, while not the largest or most exotic, was good--very good. It is located in a historic building, The Powerhouse, on the west bank of the flats along the Cuyahoga River. Also known as the Nautica Entertainment Complex, the building and surrounding complex hosts restaurants and entertainment venues throughout the year.

As you first enter, you walk through exhibits of local fish found in Lake Erie and the surrounding area's smaller lakes and streams. Not so colorful as those from the saltwater tropics but displayed in tanks that mimic their habitat somewhat. It's a whole different view of Lake Erie perch other than on the end of a hook or fried up on a plate next to a heap of potatoes.

The pathway winds through brick-walled rooms that give a nice abiance to the displays and allow for dramatic lighting in the tanks. We soon moved from the local fish to the saltwater displays where we began meeting with the kinds of fish we have seen while diving in much warmer waters.

The hallway near the display of clown fish echoed with cries of, "Look, Mommy! It's Nemo! Lots of Nemos!" I suspect many children will begin to nurture a love for our undersea marine life with their visit here. I look forward to seeing how the aquarium folks will use this as an educational tool in partnership with area schools.

My favorites among the displays? The seahorses. I've always been fascinated by them. They are hard to find when we are diving. Easiest to photograph were the lion fish. While deadly, they are beautifully graceful in the water as they flaunt their poisonous spines.

Lots of visitors were gathered near the touch pool. On tap to touch were a sea urchin (not a poisonous one), a starfish, a hermit crab, and a sea cucumber--yuck. We always call the sea cucumber a slug because of the way they look and amble across the bottom of the ocean floor. In all fairness, some are pretty but they all look like shell-less snails.

The most anticipated and probably hyped feature in the aquarium is the glassed tunnel that takes the visitor through the tank of sharks and manta rays and a few other fish that are just backdrop to the stars--the sharks. They swim back and forth and over your head giving you a good view of those lovely teeth.

While a bit pricey--tickets are $21.95/adult--I don't think they are out of line with many of the other aquariums we visited. We ended up buying an annual pass anticipating a couple of return trips. Some of the tanks were still a bit cloudy because of them being so new and freshly set up. We know how that goes. We have a 125gallon salt water tank ourselves. It's labor intensive--for my husband.

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