Woohoo it's always fun to spend a day with friends. Morag lives in London (UK) and no she did not come all this way just to spend the day with me! She was visiting another friend in San Diego for two weeks, and was able to come up to Long Beach on the same day we were in port.
The Aquarium of the Pacific is not far from where the ship docks and I've been past it many times on the bus. Morag and I both love being tourists so it was an easy decision as to how to spend our day. The Aquarium is not overly big, but there was more than enough to keep a busy for a few hours. We didn't even see all the exhibits.
We paid a little extra to do a behind the scenes tour which lasted an hour or so and was well worth it. It was Sunday of the Memorial Day long weekend, so the Aquarium was crowded. The behind the scenes tour got us away from that hoard for a little bit.
This is a piece of artwork that hangs above the entrance to the museum. It's created from junk that ends up in the ocean. As a piece of artwork it's really cool, but it sucks that all that crap is just floating out there.
During the tour we got to go above the tropical reef. It's the largest exhibit in the Aquarium. One of the first animals we saw was the turtle. Usually he's sleeping on the bottom of the reef, but today hwe was looking right at us. Can you believe he's actually a confiscated animal? Someone tried to smuggle him in from Central America somewhere, and customs caught the smuggler. So now he lives at the Aquarium. (The turtle, not the smuggler).
The tank below houses fish that are in quarantine. Once they have been declared fit and healthy they will be added to the exhibits.
Watching the fish from above the tropical reef. There are two divers in the reef giving a demonstration, it was odd to watch from above the reef rather than from the otherside of the plexiglass.
While we were above the reef we fed the fish some seaweed. They were almost jumping out of the water to get the food, and they were fighting for it.
During the tour we had to disinfect our shoes before going in and out of all the tank rooms. My shoes were quite wet but very clean by the end. Remember Jacques the shrimp from Finding Nemo? He's a cleaner shrimp. We got to put our hand in a tank with a cleaner shrimp and have him clean our hand. My hand was either very clean or he was very full.
We also chatted to two of the divers who had just come out of one of the tanks. The divers at the Aquarium are all volunteers, have over 50 hours of diving and are all rescue dive trained. As a bonus one of them was really cute - nice eye candy for the day.
There was a lot more to the tour...we saw shark eggs incubating, baby sea horses that are smaller than the nail on my little finger, gold fish and guppies being raised as food for the bigger animals, sea monkeys (remember those kits from the 80's and 90's), food being prepared for the otters and sharks and coral that had been confiscated by customs from stupid people at the border.
After the tour we wandered through the aquarium for a bit long. Some of my favourite things to see were the sea dragons. Not to be confused with sea horses, sea dragons are found in the southern waters off the coast of Australia, especially around Tasmania. I'm pretty sure I've never seen a sea dragon of the coast of Tassie, only ever in aquariums in North America, but then I've never snorkelled or scuba dived at home. Sea dragons are considered an endangered species.
I love the jelly fish. At least when they are in a tank with a thick plexiglass wall between them and me. I could sit and watch them for ages.
But I could spend even longer watching the sea otters. How adorable is this little guy sitting in the sun?
And the penguins? When can I have a pet sea otter and a penguin? The fairy penguins at Philip Island are cuter, but these guys are still very handsome. Although that one at the front left could do with a bath.
After the Aquarium, Morag and I had lunch at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, grabbed an icecream and walked back to the ship along the foreshore. I've always caught the bus from the dock to downtown Long Beach, but the seawall walk to the Aquarium area only took about 20 minutes and it was picturesque. I might have to walk it again, or even go for a run. Beats running round in circles on deck 12.
Thanks Morag for coming to visit for the day, and for the donuts they were very much appreciated by the shoppies. Who is going to come and visit me next?