Animal lovers around the world are surely saddened today upon hearing the news that the bubble-blowing beluga whale from the Georgia Aquarium was euthanized this morning after a long illness. Gasper is pictured at right being his playful self during a visit in March, 2006. Purchased from a facility in Mexico, Gasper arrived in Atlanta on Oct. 17, 2005. Upon arrival, he was severely underweight and had visible skin lesions. He was later diagnosed with osteomyelitis, an infection of the bone (interactive explanation at AJC.com, registration required). I look forward to seeing the sculpture being developed for the Aquarium’s entry plaza.
Looking for something to do this Sunday, I discovered there were open slots at the Georgia Aquarium. Wanting to take advantage of our annual membership, we gathered the troops and headed over. We missed Gasper the Beluga, but Sammy had a great time. Being able to stand on his own (unlike our last visit in February), I think he enjoyed some parts a great deal more, especially the big tank window above. I still have to rant about some aspects of the facility, though. First, I booked online, and was supposed to get an email with my tickets. Well, they finally arrived, at 1:30pm for our 11am visit. Second, it’s just far too crowded. The flow of people through a facility like this one is a classic challenge, and I don’t think they’ve done a very good job. Although tickets are for one hour slots, in reality people come and stay most of the day. So the later you come, prepare to feel like a spawning fish yourself! Anyway, it’s all worth it to see Sam enjoying himself. The amazement in his eyes is clear above. Full gallery is here.
So we joined the brand-spanking new Georgia Aquarium last Fall, and soon after the opening discovered that you need roughly 6.5 years of advance booking to attend on a weekend. Actually, it’s more like 3-4 weeks, but being new-ish parents we just didn’t have much luck planning that far ahead given our work schedules and the little guy. We did finally manage to visit last weekend, and managed to enjoy ourselves, taking photos along the way (gallery here). If you have an aversion to crowds, you may still want to hold off. The place does not handle the flow of visitors very well, with various eddies and tide pools of visitors bunching up and
screwing up my photos enjoying the varying views of the marine habitats. I’m a huge fan of aqauriums, and when I heard the main tank here is one of the largest in the world, I expected to see something like the old New England Aquarium I fell in love with during college. There, a continuous ramp wrapped around their centerpiece, a huge tank. In the Georgia version, there are only a few smaller windows into the main tank plus a huge ‘theater-like’ main window some 61 feet wide and 23 feet tall. It’s very impressive – but with the huge crowds, the setup of several (five to be exact) ‘exhibit areas’ tends to have visitors clumping up and blocking the best views. Patience is a virtue here!