Monday, April 01, 2013

30 Days of Why I Love New Olreans - Day 8

The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas


For me, diving is one on the greatest experiences I’ve ever enjoyed.   And, as a diver, I tend to love the oceans and all things sea life. New Orleans does offer one of the most wonderful aquariums I’ve ever seen.

                It’s easy to get to. It’s right on Canal Street at the Mississippi River. Seriously, head toward the river while you’re on Canal and you can’t miss it.


               The aquarium was hard hit when Katrina went through the city; a generator went

down that caused it to lose a great deal of its marine life. I was lucky to be in town for the grand reopening in 2006 and it was quite an experience to be there. The place was thronged, of course, and still, all were in great spirits and ready to ooh and aah about the fantastic work that had been done to bring it back.

                The exhibits concentrate on the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean but you never
really know what you’re going to see. One special exhibit that held me rather spellbound was one that I normally might have shrugged over—it was on jellyfish. As a diver, I’m not all that fond of jellyfish. They sting like a son-of-a-gun and hurt like hell. But watching them through the glass was like seeing something out of a fantasy novel-turned-movie. They were really beautiful.

                There are over five hundred specimens of marine life to be found here.

                There’s a tunnel you can walk through that makes it feel like you’re diving while you remain perfectly dry. It takes you through a Caribbean reef. You can view rays—animals I do love!—and angelfish and all kinds of great creatures that you would see if you were diving or snorkeling in the Caribbean. Sources tell me that the tank is 132,000 gallons.

                They say that water is soothing; many people believe that having an aquarium in a doctor’s office is calming for patients as they wait. Naturally, being in the water with a killer creature might not be calming, but watching them from the safety of an acrylic dome is pretty cool. I’m a Pisces, so maybe there’s something true in the horoscope, because I do love water. But if you even like the water, sea creatures, or coming close to other habitats, you can’t help but love the aquarium!

                Besides the reef, you can see a Mississippi River and Delta exhibit with catfish, gar, turtles—and a white alligator. If you’re not going to make it out to a bayou, this is the next best thing. Better, maybe. These creatures are not lurking in the depths; they’re there for you to see. No bug bites here. Now,
I’m from Florida, so it’s not as if I haven’t seen a number of alligators—even white ones. But I especially enjoy this exhibit, maybe because it does feel a little bit like home.

                Something of great interest to those who want to know more about our ecosystems and the working of an oil rig is the exhibit with--an oil rig. It's a replica off-shore oil rig complete with all the marine life that would swim around an oil rig out in the Gulf. You see sharks, tarpon, sting rays, turtles and more and get something of an idea of what being out on a rig would be like.

                Want to get up close and personal with a piranha? Hm. Well, I don’t, not
really—but I do enjoy seeing them in the aquarium’s Amazon Rainforest exhibit! You can get a real sense of where they live and what it’s like in an Amazon rainforest. There are macaws, too, squawking away, along with a seriously big anaconda and other animals.

Seriously, there are so many exhibits! And all of them really nicely set out so that walking through, you find interest in things you didn’t know you were interested in!

                Want to know more and enjoy movies? Naturally, they have an IMAX theater offering all kinds of intriguing fare
throughout the day on the world of water and the beings that reside in it, around it, or because of it! (The screen is five and a half stories high.)

                The aquarium is naturally far more than kid friendly. Tiny to teenage, they can find entertainment at the aquarium. There’s an Adventure Island for little ones—hey, it’s NOLA. They can explore a pirate ship. There’s also a touch-pool for the kid in all of us with friendly rays, so I say take a look at Adventure Island with or without a kid as an excuse. I’ve been here with my little nephews and I’ve loved seeing everything through their eyes. With or
without little ones, it’s simply a great aquarium.

                Sea otters! Lord, sea otters! I love them—there as cute as they can be. No, I have not tried to steal one. But are they fun to watch!

                Penguins? Yes, they’ve got them!

                Hungry? Naturally, they have a food court with different offerings. Want a party? That can be arranged.

                Want to really, really explore and spend a whole bunch of time there? Ah, but you’re with someone who isn’t quite as fish-crazy as you are.

                No problem. A short distance away is Harrah’s Casino. I tremble to admit that the bright lights have lured me a few times, but, say your friend isn’t a gambler.  He/she can head to the nearby Shops of Canal Place.   

                Maybe your friends are bug maniacs. Even if not, nearby is the Audubon Insectarium.  It’s an award-winning entomology museum and you can see things that creep and crawl, fly, bite, sting,
slither—and help keep our ecology on track! You can find the Audubon Insectarium very close—at 423 Canal Street—in part of the old U.S. Custom House. (Circa 1881) All kinds of insects can be found here and—if you’ve the mind!—you can even learn about insect cuisine from a specialized chef!
 I happen to be a little more partial to sea creatures, but you’ll be surprised just what you can learn about insects here. I highly recommend both for those traveling with children—and for those who simply love sea creatures and river beings, etc., and/or—bugs!



city said...

thanks for share...

Mike said...

I had red-belly piranha fish in my fish tank when I lived in New Jersey. They were pretty good size, about 5 inches long. People thought I was crazy because I would rearrange things at the bottom of the tank with my hand, but truthfully, they were very skittish fish. They swam into the corner and tried to get away.