Shedd Aquarium

On our last half-day Friday of the year, Liz and I decided to spend our time at the Shedd Aquarium. It’s been a while since I’ve been here (and even longer for Liz – last time she was here was when she was a kid). I’ve got a lot of fond memories of the place, as my family used to trek up to Chicago; this aquarium is as much Chicago to me as the Sears Tower.

Look familiar?

Main entrance. The big draw at the aquarium recently is the Komodo Dragon exhibit.

The Shedd Aquarium
. If you’re coming to Chicago, definitely swing by.

This is one of the first exhibits you encounter, walking in. A wide, circular tank – the Carribean Reef exhibit is the first image that comes to mind when I think about this place. Inside there are a host of fishes and creatures, including sharks and turtles.

It’s been a long while since I’ve seen a turtle swim.

I think there are regularly scheduled feedings, where someone in scuba gear goes inside the tank and gives everyone a snack. Even though some of the sharks are pretty small, I don’t know that I’d be all that comfortable inside there.

We lucked out because, as we were walking around the display, we noticed not one but TWO divers. I’m not sure what they were trying to catch (a few of the fishes I think), but it was cool to see nonetheless.

This area was in the Wild Reef exhibit – a very cool new addition to the place. The displays are gigantic, and many go from floor to ceiling.

And there are even a few more, up on the ceiling.

Another cool part of the exhibit – a stingray display that had transparent glass underfoot, allowing you to see right through. Both Liz and I were a bit cautious taking our first steps onto the thing.

A larger tank, and possibly one of the largest in the entire aquarium (with the exception of the Oceanirum, where the dolphins and whales are).

Lots and lots of sharks.

The Sawfish – one of the cooler specimens inside this large tank. He preferred skulking about up near the top, so you’d have to look really hard to spot him.

I missed all the “no flash photography” signs, and didn’t realize it wasn’t permitted. Most of the pics after this one are a little blurry, given how dark it was at most of the exhibits.

Leafy Sea Dragons are pretty fucking amazing.

Heading towards the Lizard and Komodo Dragon exhibit.

This was an exhibit that Liz really liked. She’s had several lizards/iguanas as pets, when she was younger.

Mr. Komodo Dragon, hiding out from the crowds. Apparently, there’s a bit of a debate going as to whether or not a Komodo Dragon has venom. It’s bite is quite dangerous due mostly to the tremendous amount of bacteria in its system.

Talking to one of the volunteers, I found out that feeding time is on Wednesdays. I’m not sure exactly when it happens, but Wednesdays are the day if you want to see him eat. The entire process is super fast, and no one is allowed inside the cage when feeding takes place (due to safety concerns).

The Oceanarium – an auditorium-style venue, where trainers often give shows with the dolphins. We debated sticking around for one, but in the end just walked around and left to go do some more looking around.

Down below, watching all the dolphins whizz by.

This was the best shot I could get. They were zooming by at a pretty good clip, and I had to tra
il them a bit with my camera, so they would stay in focus.

And sometimes (as I found with the Lincoln Park Zoo trip), listening to little kids is as much fun as watching the animals.

This is a shot of the main floor, where a lot of the smaller displays reside. This is another of my childhood memories of the place: the dark corridors, the glow of each tank with all the wonders inside.

We stopped off to find a restroom, and came across the SpongeBob SquarePants 4D movie theater. Despite my best arguments as to why this was a necessary thing we should see (educational value, the pretty bubbles, the fact that it’s in 4D and that’s one extra D than normal), my logic fell on deaf ears. Turns out Liz isn’t a fan of Mr. Squarepants.

The $5 for a fifteen minute show was also a bit steep. Sadly, we didn’t go in.

Random fish – I forgot to write down the exact name.

On our way out, we saw a pretty crazy display where three of the crabs inside a tank looked to be monstrous. Here’s a shot of one of the big guys.

However, you won’t fully appreciate the scale until you see the next photo.

They’re HUGE! One of them was about as big across as my torso. It was nutty.

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