Friday, January 20, 2006

The Georgia Aquarium

It's a big fish tank. No, it's a huge fish tank.

Georgia Aquarium is the largest aquarium in the world. Largest in water volume and largest in size . There is 8 million gallons of water in it's tanks. That's a lot of water. It's not regular water of course, it's salt water, 900 tons of salt is added to the 78 degree water, 6 million gallons of which is recycled every 90 minutes through 61 miles of pipes (that's the length of the 285 highway around Atlanta!).

The building itself is gigantic. Shaped like a huge ship, we entered through a hull entrance after passing under a security wand and after checking my Victorinox pocket knife. (No fishing allowed.) The building itself is 550,000 square feet of space (that's 13 acres!).

What keeps all the water in place? Well for the Ocean Voyager Exhibit, where the whale sharks and Beluga whales swim, a 263' x 126' x 33' piece of acrylic two feet thick weighing 120 tons shipped in from Japan does. This exhibit is the largest in the U.S. There are five beluga whales, two males from Mexico and three females from NY.

In the largest live coral reef in the U.S. there is "cultured live rocks." These are concrete reef shelfs that were colonized with plants and animals in Fiji for a year. Then they were shipped to Atlanta for the opening.

We had to buy tickets ahead of time through their web site and had to specify at one hour time of arrival. Their web site is patchy and it has some glitches. For example it went down a few times while making the reservation. Then I tried to change my time slot but the phone menu kept sending me in circles and there was not response to my email. What a pain.

I had already eaten ('cause I didn't want to drool on the fish displays) but the rest of our crew hadn't. So we made a bee line for the cafe where a chocolate desert cake cost $4.50! We couldn't find any seats so Ruth stood while eating her pizza. Finally we found a table. It was then that it occured to me, they don't serve any fish sticks for lunch.

After 45 minutes I was ready to see some fish. Grover turned to me and said: "We've been here an hour and I still haven't seen any fish!"

Yeah, let's get moving.

“Last year I went fishing with Salvador Dali. He was using a dotted line. He caught every other fish.” -Steven Wright