Though I’m writing this post from the relative comfort of my Massachusetts apartment–after a 30-hour delayed flight ordeal, naturally–I would give anything to return to Blue Planet Aquarium, where I spent one of my final days in England.
When I was stranded in a Newark airport hotel overnight, I comforted myself with thoughts of a soft purple glow and the slow, meandering fin-strokes of sharks. The experience of observing these marine giants seemingly floating above me, suspended in air and light, remains a highlight of my British adventure.
(It’s too bad that I forgot to pack my shark dress, though!)
Blue Planet is, I believe, the largest aquarium in the United Kingdom–and certainly one of the biggest I’d visited in a while. Its main attraction is an underwater “tunnel aquarium” that stretches over 200 feet, giving you plenty of time to wander and dream and pretend to be a shark queen of some kind.
When I was a kid, my family visited a similar tunnel at the Maui Ocean Center, just a quick plane ride away from our home island. Years later, I’m still awestruck by the time I spent there, watching the smooth underbellies of rays and sharks gliding by: so I was very glad for another opportunity to walk through water!
Before we reached the tunnel, though, we encountered many other strange creatures! I’ve always adored axolotls, or “Mexican salamanders” (axolotl is borrowed directly from Nahuatl, the language of the Mexica/Aztec culture) because they’re about as close to real-life dragons as you can get. Imagine how delighted I was to see a live one for the first time!
Man, aren’t fish scales just gorgeous? Look at that iridescence.
I call this my “school picture but with sharks” shot.
The incredible elation I felt while in the presence of these beautiful creatures inspired me to add Blue Planet to the illustrious list of my most beloved museums of the sea: alongside Monterey Bay, Mystic Aquarium, le Musée océanographique de Monaco, and the Seattle Aquarium. Do you have a favorite aquarium? I’d love to visit each one in the USA someday!