It was a dark and stormy afternoon when I first spotted this unique piece of sculpture bolted to a street sign on East 13th Street (near Ave A). I went in for a closer look:
Hungry Sharks and other creatures of the sea do battle with household trash and discarded product packaging in this colorful and compelling mural by artist Alexandra Evans, which I discovered on my most recent trip to First Street Green Art Park — where it seems there is always something cool and new. The mural is meant to draw attention to the now-crisis-level of non-recyclable trash that is finding its way into our oceans and killing fish and birds. Save the oceans!
Through a message on Instagram, Alex told me that this mural was actually a collaborative painting, created through an initiative she and a friend started called The Community Mural School. “It was completed last summer and anyone and everyone was welcome to come and paint. All ages welcome!” she said.
I appreciate the social message of this mural, as well as all the Sharks! Alexandra even added a Hammerhead shark — the Rock Star of all Sharks — as you can see above! Shark Attack in the Graffiti Park! Find and follow Alexandra on Instagram at @alex_b_evans.
Platform Diving consists of seven glass mosaic murals commissioned by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the Houston Street subway station (at Varick Street) and installed in 1994 on the walls of the northbound and southbound subway platforms of the 1 Train, and in a waiting area by the token booth.
The mosaics depict undersea creatures — turtles, beluga whales, octopi, seals, and a manatee–swimming through the subway tunnels, platforms, and passenger cars. Occasionally, humans observe their movements. The concept behind the choice of imagery was to represent a fanciful, surreal encounter between the world we normally inhabit and the one we might encounter when we descend below the surface.
What’s so crazy is that these murals have been up for nearly 20 years, and I just them for the first time in early September, because I never get off at this stop.
No matter where I am, I love having a new adventure. Just last month, I spent a few days vacationing in Boston (my first visit) on the back end of a cruise to Bermuda (recommended) and was a bit overwhelmed by all of the fun things there are to see and do in this historic, seaside city. If you find yourself in Boston and want to make the most of your time there, I suggest making a point to check out the New England Aquarium, a destination which is fun for all ages!
I have visited public Aquariums all over the country and would say that the New England Aquarium is comparable in size and scope to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California, although it also has many impressive distinguishing features.
The New England Aquarium, which opened in 1969, is a global leader in ocean exploration and marine conservation, and is one of the premier visitor attractions in Boston, with over 1.3 million visitors a year. It is a great place to bring kids because the focus is very much on education, and they have lots of animal shows and talks that you can attend for free as part of your paid admission. Please enjoy some photos and highlights from our visit!
One of the first things we did during our visit was attend a Fur Seal Training Session. Many of the seals at the aquarium were at one time sick or injured/abandoned animals that were rescued and rehabilitated at the facility where they now have a safe home.
There are moms and dads and brothers and sisters all living there together. The show is about 15 minutes and you get to meet a family of Fur Seals and hear facts about them while the swim and do simple tricks like waving and spinning around, being rewarded with some tasty fish. Kids will love it.
This one, above, is still a baby.
On the ground floor, there is a huge habitat for adorable African Penguins, where they have lots of informational signage about these birds as well as feedings, facts and presentations ongoing throughout the day.
It is lots of fun to watch them swim!
They have a huge touch pool also where you can “pet” the stingrays and small sharks. Everything is very well-supervised by Aquarium employees who give informational talks about the inhabitants of the touch pool.
This is a North Atlantic Right Whale Skeleton suspended from the ceiling, and below you can see the Penguins swimming.
The most impressive feature of the New England Aquarium is its four-story Giant Ocean Tank, located in the center of the building. The massive tank features a brand new coral reef, an underwater communications system and hundreds of Caribbean reef animals including sea turtles, stingrays, eels, small sharks and multitudes of colorful fish. I took the above photo from the very top of the tank just as a presentation was about to begin.
Be sure to pick up a visitor’s guide when you buy your ticket so you can check the schedule of all of the various talks, shows and presentations and plan your time to attend as many of them as you can.
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You can tell so much about a city from its Street Art. When I was vacationing in Seattle this past July, I photographed this very colorful undersea life mural in the city’s Pioneer Square neighborhood. With a little bit of Googling, I was able to uncover the below information on the mural at This Link:
“The 100 foot long and 17 foot tall mural Emerge: An ode to Dedication covers the east side of the currently abandoned Metropole building in Pioneer Square, located at the corner of Yesler Way and 2nd Avenue. The building was damaged by a fire in 2007. In 2010, the artist Jeff Jacobson created the mural on plywood covering the side of the building. His goal was to create something beautiful to look at and draw attention to the building. According to [a video interview with] Jacobson, where he describes the mural’s underwater scene, the salmon represent artists rising to and breaking through the surface of the water.”
Whenever I am visiting a new city, I like to find out if they have an aquarium; and if they do, I like to go there. I was in Seattle a couple of weeks ago on the front end of an Alaskan Cruise (so awesome) and spent a marvelous few hours at the Seattle Aquarium, which is right on the waterfront. The last time I was at the Seattle Aquarium, the Internet was not even a thing yet, so it was fun to see that they have made so many changes and improvements to the facility. With an emphasis on education, the Aquarium is dedicated to preserving local marine life and they have integrated many green practices into their daily operations, so it is not only a beautiful and fun place to visit, but an organization that you can feel good about supporting.
On the main floor of the Aquarium you will find many Tide Pools and Touch Pools, which are fun for kids because they can see the animals up close and even touch them. There are a few pools with large collections of anemones and brightly colored red and green Sea Stars, some with too many arms to even count.
My favorite feature of the main exhibit area is the archway-shaped Moon Jellies Illuminated tank of Sea Jellies (Jellyfish), in which the jellies appear to transition color as the recessed tank lighting runs the full colors of the spectrum. I would like to have this in my house.
The Aquarium is home to a giant Octopus who likes to hide in his tank so he is a bit hard to see. They can squish themselves up into fairly small spaces, apparently (see above photo). Several times a day you can watch them feed the Octopus, and that is really cool. If you see a scheduled feeding time listed, be sure to get yourself close to the tank about 15 minutes before the show starts, otherwise you will miss all the action. Did you know that the life expectancy of the average Octopus is only one to four years? I did not know that.
A tiny Clown Fish makes his home among the Anemones and Coral in this Pacific Coral Reef Tank.
Here is a very interesting type of Coral. I think this is called Plate Coral (judging by results from the very obvious search terms I put into Google when I got home and started writing this post) but I probably should have paid attention to its name while I was at the Aquarium. If you can confirm this coral’s proper name please leave it in the comments, thanks!
This is a Cow Fish: The Most Awesome Fish Ever In the Universe of All Time. The Cow Fish swims so very fast around the circumference of the tank that he was hard to photograph, but I got him. Moo.
In the same tank as the Cow Fish I saw this Puffer Fish, who had an angry look on his face like he was about to Puff Up, but he did not.
These intriguing creatures are called Sea Pens, for their resemblance to the old fashioned, plumed writing instruments. Sea Pens can be found in the Ocean Oddities section of the Aquarium.
Like any aquarium that is worth its salt (water), The Seattle Aquarium has a separate, outdoors habitat area that houses aquatic mammals including River Otters, Sea Otters, Harbor Seals, Northern Fur Seals and various types of Aquatic Birds, which affords a very complete experience for all visitors. These cute little guys are Sea Otters, and the staff can tell you all about them including their names and ages and how they came to have a home at the Aquarium. I was so charmed by the Otter in the above photo, who was floating leisurely on his back while playing with a plastic bowl and an empty water jug. Adorable.
Another added bonus of visiting the Aquarium is that is it so close to The Great Wheel Ferris Wheel, also located on the pier, so you can head over there for a spin in the sky and lovely views of the Puget Sound after your visit with the fish. Visit Seattle Aquarium Dot Org to find out about special exhibits and get further information on the Aquarium so that you can plan your visit!
The Seattle Aquarium is located on Pier 59 on the Waterfront, 1483 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA 98101-2015. Phone (206) 386-4300. Hours are 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM daily. Last entry is at 5:00 PM and exhibits close at 6:00 PM.
Cool Aquatic Sculpture On the Boardwalk Adjacent to the Aquarium