By John Fifer
Interested in a fun and easy way to enjoy our oceans inhabitants up close and personal with the whole family? Take them to your local aquarium! Public aquariums have been special places to introduce people of all ages to the amazing animals that reside beneath the sea for years.
For those of us unable to visit our oceans in person, pubic aquariums have done an excellent job of recreating the natural environments of our oceans inhabitants for all to see. Great care is exercised to assure species normally found together are kept together providing as close to a real experience as possible. Technology and scientific research has helped curators provide, temperature, lighting and feeding conditions that mimic what animals would normally experience in the wild. Thick acrylic walls and sometimes even tubes provide visitors with the ability to walk right through the unique underwater environment our ocean inhabitants live in and see firsthand their natural behavior.
In addition to having the inhabitants well cared for and easy for all to see, trained staff members are available to answer questions and provide information on the spot. Information can be found posted in hardcopy and in some cases digital formats with ways for people to interact and learn more.
The animals themselves are unique and thought provoking creatures that naturally spark interest in young minds. Knowing this, aquariums have developed inspiring programs tailored for children to foster curiosity and build their love for our oceans at an early age. Educational sleepovers give children a chance to experience the aquarium without crowds in a structured yet fun learning environment. Touch pools tap into additional senses and inspire the desire to learn more. Other kid friendly activities such as coloring contests, puzzles and quizzes are offered as ways to participate and have fun. Daily shows, feeding times, and behind the scenes tours are also provided to engage people of all ages.
On top of being huge promoters of ocean awareness, research typically done by public aquariums is also vital to the survival of our oceans and their inhabitants. Endangered species and habitats are identified and plans are developed for their protection. Climate change and its effect on our oceans is observed and documented to aid in decision making processes. Sustainable fishery and bycatch standards and practices are established to assure future supplies. Aquaculture programs are created to reduce pressures on our natural resources and much more.
Over 70 percent of the earth's surface is ocean. It supports the life of nearly 50 percent of ALL species on earth by providing 20 percent of the protein consumed by animals in general and five percent of the total protein in the human diet. Knowing what is in it, how to manage it and how it relates to us is as important as the air we breathe. Our public aquariums provide a vital role in assuring everyone has the ability to experience what is out there and why we need to protect it. Please, visit, enjoy and support your local public aquariums.