A Mystical Aquarium Adventure | Mystic, CT

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There are few professional picture-takers I admire quite so much as wildlife photographers. Capturing moments of natural beauty is tricky enough when you don’t have to worry about your subject scurrying away! Photographing underwater creatures, then, requires even more skill, patience, and good timing.

This is all to say that recording my recent trip to Mystic Aquarium (appropriately located in Mystic, CT) was a herculean task beyond belief: but I love sealife so much that I couldn’t help but do my best to channel my inner Sylvia Earle and get up close and personal with these waterbound wonders.

And I thought photographing the moon was hard!

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We chose a miraculously bright November day to travel down to Mystic, which made the outdoor portion of the exhibits all the more enjoyable. I can still remember the cold sea air pressing down on me as we shuffled from frozen ponds to penguin habitats during my childhood visits: so seeing the aquarium on a sunny day seemed almost impossible.

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Beautiful, sensuous sculptures by a contemporary glass artist decorated some of the smaller tanks near the entrance–though they certainly can’t compete with…

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…the actual jellies!

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Mystic deals with the issue of displaying bioluminescence very well: I appreciated the arrangement of darker tanks that allowed us to see the more flamboyant creatures on display.

(This jellyfish, I should mention, isn’t actually bioluminescent–s/he’s just an electric pink color that looks gorgeous under the lights!)

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I try my best not to be an annoying pedant, but I became quite grumpy when a huge group of young folks around my age came up to this dude and started calling him a “piranha”–even though his label indicated otherwise and he was in a saltwater tank! The whole purpose of aquariums is to educate the public about all the amazing creatures that call the oceans home, thereby convincing visitors of all ages that it’s worth it to, you know, keep those darn oceans safe and not destroy them and the rest of the world’s natural resources.

I’m afraid I might end up on a bit of a conservation rant if I continue here, so I’ll leave it at this: there are more fish than just piranhas on this beautiful blue planet, my friends.

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I began this post by talking about the challenges of aquarium photography, and I almost didn’t want to share this failed attempt at a manta model moment: but just look at that weird little face. Goodbye to you too, buddy! Keep on flapping those “wings” and being a wonderful ambassador for marine conservation.

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