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.
They have very interesting feet!
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.
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!
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
During the Christmas holidays I enjoyed a relaxing and fun stay in Southern California. One of the local sites I visited for the first time is the Long Beach Aquarium, also called the The Aquarium of the Pacific. I have visited Aquariums all over the country from New Orleans to Atlanta to Seattle and I must say that the Aquarium of the Pacific is home to many exotic fish and sea creatures that I had never even seen before. So it was pretty cool and we had an awesome time. Here are some of my favorite photos of cool sea life we saw that day.
This is a massive, floor-to-ceiling tank that they have out in the Main Hall. near the entrance I think this is a freshwater tank.
This tank stocked with colorful Clown Fish had all of the little kids screaming, “Nemo! Nemo! Dory!” It was somewhat annoying, to be honest. Just giving you a head’s up.
Bioluminescent Sea Jellies
Nudibranches! My Favorite!
Leafy Sea Dragon. Amazing.
Weedy Sea Dragon
They have a pretty cool Shark Tank full of Sharks and Rays but none of the Sharks would stop moving to pose for a photo. I did get a decent shot of the Giant Ray below, which was as a big as a small car.
A garden of Worm Fish!
Pretty Pink Coral!
Aquarium of the Pacific is Located at 100 Aquarium Way (just follow the freeway signs) in Long Beach, CA 90802, Phone(562) 590-3100. Hours are 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM Every Day of the Year, Except Christmas Day and During the Grand Prix of Long Beach (April 19, 20 and 21, 2013). Adult Admission is $25.95 with Various Package Deals Available.
It has been a long while since I had a squee-worthy thing to share with you under the guise of the Cuteness Alert. But I think you will agree that this Dumbo Octopus, so named for its “floppy ears” (which you can’t fully appreciate in this photo) is simply cuteness distilled. Squee.
Neatorama just posted a cool link to this National Geographic news story about a rare RainbowJellyfish. According to the report, “The jellyfish does not emit its own light, as bioluminescent creatures do. Rather, its rainbow glow emanates from light reflecting off the creature’s cilia, small hair-like projections that beat simultaneously to move the jellyfish through the water.” Awesome. This actually reminds me of a scene in the Wes Anderson film, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, which I saw again last night on IFC (great film, by the way) where hundreds of “Electric Jellyfish” wash up on the beach and Zissou’s crew run out to film it.
On my last day in Atlanta, I took a trip to the Georgia Aquarium, which has been open for just one year and is the largest aquarium in the world. Seriously. Here are some of the cool sea creatures I saw on my visit.
The Beluga Whale, which is related to the Dolphin, is the only whale that can move its neck
The Aquarium has a pod of five Beluga whales. Their eyes look almost human.
They also have a bunch of whale sharks, which, obviously, are the world’s biggest sharks.
I know someone who would like to have a home aquarium filled with just Jellyfish.
Big Big Tank
We stayed in this room for about an hour just watching the fish swim by. It was so awesome.
These Giant Grouper swim up to the glass and look right at you.
The Leafy Sea Dragon is Related to the Sea Horse and Pipefish
How can you look at this thing and say there is no god?
The Weedy Sea Dragon is the Leafy Sea Dragon’s Less-Flamboyant Cousin
The Georgia Aquarium really is like a Disneyland for fish and sea mamals. I had the best time and reccommend that everyone go there when they are in Atlanta. You can make advance reservations at their website.