Newport Aquarium

As a birthday present, one of Namine’s aunts gifted us tickets to Newport Aquarium. It made for a perfect close to our little vacation!

Any aquarium worth its salt (water) has an underwater tunnel. If it was good enough for Jaws 3, it’s good enough for us. Newport certainly had that, in spades. What we didn’t realize at first, going through the tunnels, was that the tank around and above us was one giant tank that we would encounter in different ways throughout our entire tour.

The aquarium had no shortage of petting areas, either. There were different areas for petting sting rays, sharks, and even shrimp. Namine wasn’t tall enough, standing on her wheelchair seat, to reach the sharks.

While we were in the petting area for the sharks, Namine noticed a sign stating that sharks kill an average of 12 people per year. People, on the other hand, kill an average of 10,000 sharks per hour. This disturbed her, and she asked an employee if any shark species had gone extinct because of it.

We were told that decades ago, the data didn’t exist that we have today. Mankind had not explored the ocean as much as we have today, and that even now much about the ocean is still relatively unknown. It is known, however, that many species of sharks, especially the larger ones, are dangerously close to extinction.

We eventually — once Namine had satisfied her curiosity and thirst for shark knowledge — moved on to the next area. She was tall enough to reach in the rays’ tank, but none came close enough for her to touch. A few came close, though.

Namine was also close enough for the shrimp, and she did get to touch them. I should say, rather, that they came to touch her. They were cleaning shrimp, and all a human needed do was stick their hand in the water.

After you put your hand in the water, the shrimp came to you. They were not shy about climbing all about your hand, arm, whatever. As long as it was submersed, they climbed about — and cleaned, too, I presume.

The aquarium was home to two particularly unique animals: albino alligators named Snowball and Snowflake. I then presented Namine with a small bit of homework: how can you tell if an animal is albino and leucistic?

After doing some reading of the explanatory placards, she informed me that while both can result in the lack of skin color, only albinism results in the red coloration in the eyes, which is the blood vessels becoming visible.

As we continued exploring, we found areas that ran over, as well as under, the giant tank that spanned nearly the breadth of the whole aquarium. We even spied some large sea creatures directly underneath us, like that spotted eagle ray in the second picture.

We had the opportunity to keep exploring for quite a while, seeing more sharks, jelly fish, giant sea crabs, eels, and turtles. The aquarium had the pleasure of housing many small sea turtles, as well as one giant loggerhead turtle.

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