Wild (Philippine) Reef in the MidWest

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September 9th 2007
Published: December 2nd 2007EDIT THIS ENTRY

My first dolphin show!My first dolphin show!My first dolphin show!

"Infinity" view of the dolphin pool to Lake Michigan
My R took me to the Shedd Aquarium where we spent the entire day with my finned friends. 'Twas the best day ever!, as Spongebob would say. (We have a picture together somewhere in the end of this post. Fun fun!)

Soy for the lactose-intolerant and the... err, roof?

The Shedd is a short bus ride from St. Peters where we heard mass. In less than 20 minutes, we were walking to the entrance of the aquarium which boasts of its Greek architecture with intricately-designed columns and huge staircase. I once read that in its effort to conserve energy, the Shedd used soy as a coating in its roof which helps lower the building's cooling needs. Cool, noh?

There was quite a crowd in the aquarium -- tourists and Chicagoans. So, with a map on hand and the Premium Day Pass wristband (which, by the way, is quite a sturdy paper wristband), we planned out where to begin our aquatic walk inside the building. One more step closer to the glass walls and I knew I'd have a really, really, really good day -- thanks to my R . 😊

Waters from Around the World

First, we walked through the Waters of the World exhibit which showcased fish from, well, around the world! Hehe! We started to see silver-gray fish from the "Rivers" section. They feature the fish thriving in the Mississippi River, and those in the tropics such as Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia. There were the small yet plentiful tetras, catfish, turtles, frogs and also big scary fish. The Paddlefish were very interesting to look at. As if their long "noses" aren't attention-grabbing enough, they like swimming with their big mouths opened as if seated on a dentist's chair 24/7! Haha! Colors started to brighten up as we were walking along the "Islands and Lakes" section. They had cichlids from Africa which are aquarium-favorites. We also saw two blue iguanas that didn't seem to want to be caught moving. Maybe they were playing stop-dance.

In the exhibit, I learned that ecological disasters occur due to accidental transportation of fish larvae from one habitat to another. Such "accidental" transportation is done by ships and their ballast water, which they need in order to stay upright when not fully loaded. So when a ship needs to carry load, it needs to purge some of its ballast
Outside the Shedd... bikers, joggers, etc...Outside the Shedd... bikers, joggers, etc...Outside the Shedd... bikers, joggers, etc...

Also, a distant view of the Navy Pier
water, carrying along with it "immigrant" species, thus upsetting habitats or worse, spreading disease.

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?

We checked our watches. We were just in time for a 4D FX Theater show featuring my favorite sponge "who lives in a pineapple under the sea." Wearing funny-looking yellow eyeglasses, we saw and heard the pirate sing. We got squirted with cold water by the swimming dolphins on the screen. Spongebob took us on a ride in his bike and we fell on the rocky sea floor. Patrick poked us with a rod and we smelled something fishy in their amusing, fishy world. Ahhh! I wish there's 4D on home cable. Hehe!

I'm so jealous

The Carribean Reef is at the heart of the building. This aquarium is like a giant tube dug right smack at the center which is teeming with parrot fish, sharks, a green 6-foot moray eel, manta rays (one lost its tail), butterfly fish, squirrel fish and angel fish. Their resident sea turtle, Nickel, is in there too! She was named Nickel because she swallowed a nickel. Seriously! The animal rescuers found her badly scarred
The city and its boatsThe city and its boatsThe city and its boats

View from outside the Shedd Aquarium
and removed the coin from her esophagus. Thus the name Nickel.

I was already feeling quite content watching my finned friends swim about, till I saw a lady diver in the aquarium! She said HI to everyone and she started talking through her high-tech scuba mask and snorkel. She fed the fish and told us about the creatures that surround her. Waaaaah! I'm so jealous! I want to do what she's doing! Hmmm, if I were in the tank with the high-tech microphoned scuba mask and snorkel... I could sing "Under the Sea" and "Part of Your World"... and yes, pretend to be Ariel, the Little Mermaid. Ngyahaha!

The Carribean tank had many sorts of corals. The barrel coral was most notable because of this certain parrot fish (see photo below) that always "sat" there, staring at me like begging me to have her picture taken. Hehe! There were brain corals too that sprang out of the tank's sandy bottom.

Husbands should get pregnant too!

As we continued with the "Oceans" section, we saw about five different species of seahorses. I learned that in the seahorse world, the males get pregnant! Isn't that cool?
I'm so proud of our Philippine ReefsI'm so proud of our Philippine ReefsI'm so proud of our Philippine Reefs

The whole third floor features the Philippine Reefs!
(It's cool because it's weird.) I overheard a woman say the same thing to a friend and both agreed they wish that could happen to humans too. But ewww..... anyway....

There were two special long tubular tanks that had kelp. And amongst the kelp are Sea Dragons floating around like they were kelp too. Camouflaging in action! Interesting. Very cute. But my other favorite is the "normal" sea horse who likes to hang upside down on a water plant's branch. I took a picture of the yellow upside down sea horse. You will find it here in this post. This particular sea horse amused me.

Hello, "customers"

Further into the "Oceans" section, I was starting to see more creatures I am more familiar with. I saw the customers of the Krusty Krab! (Ok, sorry, I've been watching too much Spongebob Squarepants that now, I could relate to 4-year-olds who watch the cartoon network regularly!) The "customers" I refer to are fish with seemingly oversized lips. In the same tank is Patrick Starr, portrayed by a pink starfish idly sticking to the glass wall. It all felt familiar seeing the customer and the starfish together.
Colorful reefColorful reefColorful reef

... which, apparently, my point-and-shoot camera can't capture

We saw some Alaskan King Crab which were about 25 inches in length (including its arms). We saw Nemo (clown fish) darting from it's anemone. It felt so peaceful to see the soft corals "dancing" and swaying like praising God in the heavens who created them. For the first time, I saw a red sea urchin. All the sea urchins I have seen in the waters of Surigao and Batangas are black.

Another Upside Down Invertebrate

We found another fellah which, contrary to the common jellyfish that we know, likes to see the world upside-down. It's the Upside Down Jellyfish that's pinkish and a little purplish in color. They need a lot of light to survive because they can also produce their own food. Apparently, they also sting.

Another first, by the way, is seeing a flounder! Hmmm maybe I have seen one before in Guam's Underwater World but it's only now that I got curious about this flatfish. I have Spongebob Squarepants to (happily) blame for, because in Bikini Bottom, these flounders are the ugliest fish. They have both their eyes on one side! Hehe!

Wild over Wild (Philippine) Reef

Another jellyfish
Baby rays swimming below usBaby rays swimming below usBaby rays swimming below us

Philippine Reef Exhibit at the Shedd
tank welcomed us on our way to the 3rd floor of the building which houses the Shedd's permanent exhibit called the Wild Reef. I felt so proud of my country walking out of the elevator and seeing a rough map of the Philippines with the words "Come explore the Philippine Coral Reef". What else can I say? Our tropical reef is filled with sooo much color!!! There were more sharks here than any of their exhibits. The aquarium was very huge extending high up the ceiling . It was teeming with nurse sharks, white tip sharks, more tropical fish, and lot lots more colorful corals! Ahhhh... feels like home already.

There were baby stingrays swimming below us. We were walking on glass floors so we could see the white sandy bottom (like Boracay's or Siargao's sandy beaches). This exhibit is based on the Apo Island Marine Sanctuary which was also portrayed with a nipa hut and articles and pictures taken from the Philippines.

4 Dolphins in the Air!

Believe it or not, I have never seen a Dolphin Show... till today! Yipeeyayey! My R and I sat on the stone bleachers just far enough to
Apo HutApo HutApo Hut

Philippine Reef Exhibit at the Shedd
appreciate the "infinity" effect of the dolphin pool to the lake behind it -- Lake Michigan. Each dolphin in the show had a caretaker donned in wetsuits. They instructed the dolphins to spin, do some sprint swimming, and ofcourse, leap into the air! I must say I am so proud of myself to have taken a picture of all four of them in midair... only with my digicam's viewfinder!! My battery was dying out so I decided to conserve the little power it has by not using my LCD. I was fun watching the dolphin immitate its caretaker swim on its back, and do other tricks. Dolphins are so adorable!

After the show, we went inside the Oceanarium to see sea otters (another favorite of mine). We saw penguins that made a lot of noise! I was standing right by the glass wall along with little kids, mesmerized with these "birds in tuxedos". I think it's a good thing that the movie industry, lately, makes movies about the ocean and its creatures. They have long been ignored and unappreciated. Thanks to film, kids nowadays learn a lot about the ocean and hopefully, do their part to take care of
Australian Lung FishAustralian Lung FishAustralian Lung Fish

They look like logs and they are slow-swimmers in the quiet rivers of Australia.

Next to the penguin exhibit is the way to the Beluga Whale. Too bad the exhibit was closed because the resident Beluga Whale just gave birth and needed time to recuperate. I am perfectly fine with that. Hopefully, next time, I get to see some real Beluga Whales aside from those I see on National Geographic. Hehe!

Of lizards and the webbed feet

We walked to the last exhibit of Shedd which they call Lizards and the Komodo King. Part of me felt, "Uhoh! Is this the end of my day in the Shedd?". But a bigger part of me felt grateful enough to have enjoyed and seen a lot with my R, ofcourse.

It was warm inside this exhibit. Has to. The lizards need that much warmth to survive, since they are reptiles. They are cold-blooded. Unlike mammals, they cannot maintain their body temperatures the way we mammals do.

Additional photos below
Photos: 38, Displayed: 29


View from inside the cafeteriaView from inside the cafeteria
View from inside the cafeteria

Chicago skyline on a summer day
Manta Ray meets BoyManta Ray meets Boy
Manta Ray meets Boy

At the Carribean Aquarium

4th December 2007

sana makita ko rin tong aquarium na 'to .....hayy..... soon, soon...
5th December 2007

Yes, ayeen, soon! Nakakatuwa ka naman... ang hilig mo rin sa fish! Hehe!

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