Sunday, June 11, 2006

A trip to the Melbourne Aquarium

For the longest time, I pestered Ærynn to take me to the Melbourne Aquarium. Finally, being financially independent myself, I took her instead. Here are our pics, on the Sunday before the Queen's birthday (12 June). There aren't much of them, since we still don't have a real digital camera and all these pictures have been taken with my mobile phone (which doesn't have that much memory, so we had to be picky with our shots).

Little Pasig in a corner of the Yarra on the way to the Aquarium

The Melbourne Aquarium, as it looks like when approached from the waterfront

"Here there be dragons"—a really nifty Sea Dragon was one of the creatures we first saw

The Melbourne Museum isn't just a place filled with tanks of water that happen to contain aquatic life-forms, there are permanent learning kiosks as well...

... this particular one shows you the different electrical charges certain fish and eels make compared to your own (which you determine by placing your hands on some electrical sensors shaped like palms)

This is just an example of a sort of "question-and-answer" type gadget; read the question/riddle/puzzle...

... and then flip to get the answer/solution. These are not the only gadgets around there; others are actually more ingenious, but these are the ones that fit on the view-finder.

Ærynn looking over a man-made billabong[1]. There were creatures living in it, too.

One of the main attractions of the Melbourne Aquarium—the "Shark Tank" (which actually has not only sharks but rays and other large sea-creaturs)

There were some signs that said that because of the curvature of the glass in the observation deck, the creatures would actually appear smaller than they really are. Later we got an idea of just how big when some divers were also in the tank to provide a comparison in actual size. That shark in the background was really huge! Crikey!

Ærynn took this picture as I stood on one of the observation decks.

This lady giving a little talk about sharks as divers prepared to get into the tank to feed the sharks and the rays.


... more jellyfish...

... and then this particularly magnificent one (tentacles as long as a person's height and that umbrella the size of a salad bowl).

But the most magnificent of them all is the display of a real (but dead) giant squid frozen in ice. I couldn't get a decent picture using my mobile phone, so I just downloaded this one from Wikipedia. To get an idea of the size of this small specimen: that entire block of ice is as long as a small car. Giant squid, by the way, have already been photograped alive in the wild.[2] [3] [4]

When in Oz...

There is a way to have a guided tour around Melbourne for free—ride the City Circle Tram. After we left the Aquarium, we decided to take a ride on this special tram (which, unlike the other modern trams, is one of the older ones made of wood, makes lots of noise, and has an automated voice script for each of the tram stops, explaining the sights) and we had a wonderful time. (We took the tram at night, so I'm showing another Wikipedia picture below.)

Now that the "holy grail" of finding a live giant squid is out of the way, I find out that there is an even larger squid out there. What does one call a squid even larger than the giant squid? "Colossal Squid."[5] [6] [7] Figures. I took this comparison chart from this squid article on BBC.