The Sealife of Tennessee

December 7, 2009 The Tennessee Aquarium is "the highes rated aquarium in the USA".

I took a lot of photos--all in wide angle, unfortunately, which means lower quality and poor memory (mine). I'd like to show you anyway. It might take a couple, three posts so here we go.

This is a freshwater stingray. I didn't know freshwater species existed. The one below has the company of several others including a bright orange and black ray and also fish that couldn't care less about them.

Can I get that for you?

Okay, not sealife, but cute, right?

That's a blue spotted ray below on the left in the tropical touch tank. All of their barbs are "removed". Wonder if that hurts...

I touched a ray. They feel like a warm, soggy mushroom. The fish on the right is a guitar fish.

We are especially adore penguins. They have such character. They waddle, socialize, dive and play. They're nonstop entertainment.

They're curious too. The little one below floated above and let me snap all the photos I wanted.

Shark alert!

PLEASE, please, please, Mother Nature, never let me see a shark this close in real life:

Ditto, but dazzling.

The aquarium has a large jellyfish exhibit lit by black light. "Jellyfish" is a misnomer; we should call them sea jellies or just jellies.

These are upsidedown jellies. Lazy jellies. They just stretch out and wait for food to come to them. Bet you know some creatures like that...

The jellies below just look confused. They bump and roll around.

An elegant species:

This one should appear here almost life size. It gives a little light show.

This is where I tell you that I have in fact eaten "jellyfish". I don't recommend it.

It was dinner with an important Asian client. He ordered. And, hey, I like to try new things...

Actually, I never wanted to try sea jellies.

They served it cold, in strips as long as shoelaces. What does it taste like? Well, first you have to chew it for days, well, for what seems like days because it has the consistency of jello left out in the sun to dehydrate for ... oh, say ... ten years! Anyway, you chew and chew and chew (and so on) and it never softens. In fact, it never tastes like anything after the jelly sauce dissolves, which you don't really taste because your mind overrides all tastebud abilities: I'm eating jellyfish! Gelatinous zooplankton!

Was it cooked or raw? I have no idea. So. You chew 'til the chunks can be safely swallowed without instigating a gag reflex and you gulp it down like you're famished. I'm convinced it can't really be digested anyway so why extend the epicurean anguish?

Yeah. Don't eat 'em if you can help it.