Monday, 12 March 2012

Aqua Marine

Till one actually finds time/courage to go scuba diving, it may be a good idea to visit the Sealife Aquarium in London as a prelim. From Hounslow West, The Piccadilly Line takes you to South Kensington  from where you change to the District Line to Westminster. Keep atleast 3 hours for the sojourn while the rest of the day you could do London Eye/Madame Tussauds/London Dungeon.

The combo tickets are cheaper & have a one-month validity. Check site before you travel. Online booking also gives you further concession.                                                                       Beware of the touts outside the venues, they stand in the queue like any other visitor & you suddenly hear one ask you, 'do you have a ticket or are you looking for vouchers? I have vouchers- two for the price of one.' On telling him that we had no cash, he brought down his price to a fiver! While the offer is tempting, you never know if those worn out vouchers will be accepted at the entrance. By then you have lost your money & the man. 

                                      Visitors are ushered into the dimly lit Aquarium and you find yourself walking on water. Almost!

There is a glass ramp under your feet & you look down to see sharks swimming around in their majesty as if this is just home. They are not alone, there are other species as well. They seem to co-exist in perfect harmony, to the common eye, at least.
                                                                                              There is a muted music playing, the interior is bluish, you have been instructed to click pictures but no flashes, please, and you are actually under water. Or so it seems. The experience is so real.            
The water ramp leads you into the cave with a water gushing-sound & you almost think you are going to get drenched. But greenery greets you. 
                                          Look closely (below right)there is a school of fish so transparent that they blend in with the green weeds. Their spine can be seen,they are so clean & clear!                                                                                                            There are jelly fish & there are upturned jelly fish, and when you read some facts about them you marvel at Nature's engineering.

The  star fish dazzle in their grandeur. There are petting tanks for the star fish where you can touch them. We did. Starfish has a rough spiny exterior, quite unlike what we had imagined it to be.                                                                                                                             The Ocean Walk takes you into a glass tunnel. All around & above you is fish. It is a surreal feel.                                                                                                                                  
Visitors are requested to keep to their right, any overtaking happens from the left. Put your cheek against the thick glass to experience fins touching you. As you soak in the aqua feeling, there is a Stingray, flat round fish with a long tail(right), swimming above your head. And another species waving at you. By now you don't bother with their names. You revel in their beauty.

Sharks have always inspired fear & awe in humans. As they swim around in their majesty, you are made aware of their plight. The aquarium also houses baby sharks growing in their eggs. How fascinating can life be!

As you gasp at the regality of one sea creature, the vibrance of the other catches your eye. There's the spiny lobster on the left & its equally colourful home below. Underwater life is breathtaking in its variety & colour coding!     
                                                                                                      A very human trait was observed when we realized that like the good-looking people in society, the pretty fish were the more camera friendly! They are like the social butterflies.    

They need no description really. Like Katrina Kaif, it is enough that they are a   feast to the eyes.
They need no more credentials. They attract the major crowd, anyway!                                   

By far the Fiji centre is the most colorful part of the aquarium. As is the Nemo corner. Enlarge these pics to enjoy the sheer beauty of these sea fishes.     

The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, USA, is the largest in the world. For those who haven't seen that, the London Aquarium is not too bad either.

The most camera shy of the marine family seemed to be the octopuses. They may have had enough of the paparazzi & just refused to come out of their dens!

Also, the penguins. They stood so far away that it was impossible to get very clear pictures of them.                                  

Amidst the awe were some hard facts staring us in the face.

So the next time we go on a cruise & are tempted to bin the trash in the water, let us pause & think.

And instead of consuming one type of fish, environmentalists suggest, people eat different varieties so that no one species becomes 
endangered.(pic right) 

Saw a live sea-horse the first time in life. We have a dry one at home, it brings good luck they say. Some astounding facts about sea- horses made us smile.(right)     


The turtles surprised us by their speed. Unlike the slow & steady image they are famous for, these were constantly paddling around the tank. Except one who allowed a photo to be clicked!

Turtles are an endangered species too. Enlarge pics(left) to know more.

And if you are still wondering why fake tears are called crocodile tears, here's why!(right)

The Thames Walk takes us past more marine & lots of facts.

Nancy keeps the children doubly entertained with her deft hand. There is a face-painting stall inside the Aquarium too!

The Antartica Tunnel suddenly makes the temperature drop. You touch the wall & realize it is ice!

The penguins are housed in this section. If you have seen Happy Feet, you wonder what the penguins are talking among themselves about us!
  Fascinating facts about sharks:                           Quite a teeth job,eh!                                                                                                                          That's some team work!(right)                                                                                                        And we thought women were self-obsessed!!!(below)

In the film Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, the diving instructor says underwater diving is like meditation for her. You are one with Nature. With yourself.
                                                                                                                                                            A trip to the Sealife Aquarium & you almost know what she means.
                                                                            I leave you with a meditation in motion. An ocean view video below.
                                                                                            Plan your trip, people!                                                    

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