Aquariums, Return of

This week we return to the land of octopi, dolphins, jellies, sharks and other interesting creatures. In our continuing effort to make your Quality Time experience as pleasing as possible I've chosen a theme song for this week's column. It's called Seahorse and is by Jonathan Coulton. It's the lament of a male seahorse who only wants love but somehow has ended up alone and in charge of the kids yet again.

I found some awfully odd aquariums this week. There's the AquaDom in Berlin, a seven-story aquarium built around a glass elevator so you can ride up and down all day long peering at the couple thousand fish on display. There's the largest underground aquarium in the world, Underwater Adventures Aquarium, found, under, of all places, the Mall of America in Minnesota. They are currently celebrating Shark Fest X and have a sleep with the sharks event coming up on September 22nd. Worried moms take note, I'm pretty sure that the sharks stay on one side of the tank and the kids stay on the other, with the sharks preferring the bit with the water.

In the odd but good news category we have the return of the sea otters and penguins to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans. These animals were evacuated to the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California after Hurricane Katrina and were there for several months. You'll never guess how they got back to their homes in Louisiana; FedEx was the carrier of choice. That's right, when it absolutely, positively has to get there overnight and be kept cool and safe and well supplied with fish, apparently there is only one choice. This facility is also home to an unusual white alligator named Spots. No, I have absolutely no idea why he's called that. Be sure to check out the shark touch pool, it's quite popular.

If you've got the yen for something more interactive (and more expensive) you may want to sign up for the Albuquerque Aquarium Bahamas collecting trip taking place September 20 - 26, 2006. Participants will stay on an 85-foot boat while they use various techniques, including diving, to collect fish and survey reefs. You must be an experienced and certified diver to qualify for the expedition.

The National Aquarium in Baltimore has a huge new exhibit called Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes. It certainly sounds extreme; listen to this description of what awaits visitors who "will come nose to nose with crocodiles, flying foxes, rainbow lorikeets, the venomous death adder…" I don't mind coming nose to nose with a lorikeet or even a fox, flying or otherwise, but I personally draw the line at anything that has the word death for its first name. Some other animals with interesting names include the splendid tree frog, the lungfish, and the purple spotted gudgeon. (By the way, the word gudgeon used to be an insult in England during Regency times, meaning a clueless gullible fool.) Another exhibit that you should definitely check out is the Frogs! A Chorus of Colors display, which features some amazing looking, and sounding, frogs. This picture of the Vietnamese Mossy Frog is well worth clicking on, it's really neat looking. Of course there is much more to the aquarium than frogs and bats that are called foxes; it is so enormous and has so many animals (14,000+) that you should plan your visit out before you come or you may not see everything that appeals to you. It would be very sad to get home and realize you forgot to see the sloths or you didn't get to admire the graceful beauty of the hauntingly lovely stingrays.

This week we have a one-sentence review from 1337 |\/|4574 P3BB|_3 who is talking about Mech Warrior Four: Mercenaries for the PC. 1337 |\/|4574 says, "This game is a billion years old but still exceptional on almost every level." Have you got a one-sentence review you’d like to submit to Quality Time? Send it in to me at and I'll run the best ones. You may focus on just about anything that fits a family entertainment format; games, movies, books, music - the sky is the limit.