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In the concluding piece of the Aquarium of the Pacific photographs, I am left with those creatures who did not fit in the first two pieces, Visions of color and Medusae, ponies and dragons.

But I'm cool with that.  I have experience with being in the category of Other on a lot of points.

The dude to the left is a sea bass.  I searched and searched for video from Shadow of the Thin Man, hoping to find the hilarious sea bass scene.  Alas, my search was in vain.

But come on in if you wish to see some crustaceans and octopodes, eels,  anemones, coral and other stationary critters, sharks, rays, and a couple of sea lions...and a surprise or two.

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The first set of six consists of fish who didn't make the cut in Visions of Color.  The photo in the lower right, while apparently colorful, is a false-color image.  The eyes of the fish did not fluoresce.  The rockfish on the left are quite interesting, but not all that colorful...which reminds me of some wisdom from Alton Brown:  the more colorful the fish, the less tasty it is.

As can be seen above, the tanks that held those fish had other things growing in them.  Often it was vegetation of some sort, but it's hard to tell with creatures of the sea.  Below are some photos of the sea anemone and sea urchin tanks (where visitors were allowed to touch the animals) and the coral exhibit, where we were not.

Sea anemonies and corals belong to the phylum Cnidaria, which surprised me because that makes them close relatives with the jelly fish.

Sand dollars (on the left) are not stationary creatures, but they do move very slowly.  As does the chocolate starfish on the right.

The chocolate star shared a tank with the octopus on the left.  The octopus on the right provides understanding of why giant tentacled creatures might be thought of as vicious monsters.  I have to admit that the dude wasn't exactly that color until I flashed my camera at it the first time (picture discarded because of too much reflection).  It turned more red, glared at me (okay, maybe not at me personally) and slithered into its cave...but not before I managed another shot.

Eels???  Ewww.  Icky poo.

Actually, they aren't that bad.  I suppose.  If you like that sort of thing.  Insert Jim  Stafford's I don't like spiders and snakes here.

I'm not sure if those eels are mother and child, mates, or just friends.  Hell, I don't even know if what I see there are two eels.  Could be just two parts of the same one.

Speaking of spiders...I did mention them above, I believe...or Jim Stafford did, anyway...we have pictures of spider crabs below.  We know they are spider crabs and not king crabs because they have fewer appendages with Good Eats.

And I suppose we shouldn't neglect the marine cockroaches...er, spiny lobsters.  The keen eyed reader might have noticed several in the eel photo.  To the right in both the eel photo (where you can see more of it) and this shot, which focuses more on the lobsters, is a lobster trap.

Think about that.

How sick is that for an aquarium exhibit?  Maybe we should hang some hooks and/or trawling nets in the fish tanks.

Really, I don't want to think about these creatures as food until I leave the aquarium.  On the other hand, I am fond of lobster bisque.

And maybe now would be a good time to point out, in the interest of full disclosure, that after the aquarium visit, we went across the street to Bubba Gump's and dined on shrimp.

Below on the left are mermaid's purses.  At least, that's what they will be after the shark embryos inside them finish their gestation and these eggs pouches dry up and arrive on a beach somewhere.  On the right are some sharks which the embryos will grow up to resemble.

On the very left of the shark photo is a pilot fish, which is a carnivorous fish of the mackerel family.

There are some outdoor exhibits at the Aquarium of the Pacific, including a shark tank, which we could not get close enough to see, an enclosure for shore birds, and the ray pond, where people were allowed to touch the rays.

Rays are related to sharks and like sharks are mostly cartilage rather than bone.  Order Batoidea includes the true rays as well as the stingrays, skates, electric rays (torpedo rays and numbfishes), guitarfishes and sawfishes.  The skates have been overfished in many parts of the world and several species are on the Greenpeace sea food red list.  All species of sawfishes are critically endangered.

That is a manta on the upper left of the left-hand photo.  That could be a manta on the upper right of that photo as well, though I tend to think it is a cownose.  At that point, I realized that I am a doctor of mathematics, not a ray identifier.  I gave up on most of the others...though I'll take a guess that the guy in the front of the left photo to be a shovelnose guitarfish.

For anyone wondering, they periodically amputate the stingers on the rays.  These dermal denticles do grow back.

The Wild Animal Park, the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, and the Aquarium of the Pacific.  What did they all have in common?  They all had sea lions.  That probably says something about the fascination we have with these guys.  I've speculated to myself...and now to you...that maybe we see in them what humans might be like if we were sea creatures.

Anyway, the guy laying on the side of the swimming hole, behind the disgustingly dirty glass, simply lying there to insure there would be lighting that would make for sad sack photographs, is Miller, who is ancient in sea lion years.  He's been in captivity since the early 80s and will turn 30 this summer.

Below are a couple of shots of one of the younger sea lions, swimming upside down and then surfacing.  It could be Odin, but I'm not positive.

Have I mentioned that I love puffins?  I had no idea that they had them at this aquarium and had been moping about not being able to get any good shots of them or the penguins at SeaWorld.  But I turned a corner and there s/he was, a splendor behind the glass.

I decided to use this photo for the sayanora. :-)

Originally posted to Robyn's Perch on Sun Mar 21, 2010 at 05:25 PM PDT.

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