Wednesday, October 7, 2009
We had an amazing zoo field trip on Monday. The whole family went, because that is Don's only day off this bad changeover, and so we made a day of it. The kids and I have been studying the ocean on a elective level for about 6 months now. We have had a bunch of field trips that have to do with fish and the oceans. So we decided to make a booklet... an Ocean Research Booklet. Each time we see/read/find something new or neat about the ocean, we put it in our booklets... and this zoo trip could not have come at a better time.
Monday morning is a quiet time at the zoo. I am not sure why, but there were hardly any people around. That meant that the shark pools and the aquarium were all ours. We started at the sharks. As we stepped down into the watching area, we saw a large nurse shark laying on the bottom, right up next to the window. As we watched it two little fish started going in and out of it's mouth! They were cleaning it's teeth! We stayed there the whole time, which was about 15 minutes, and then the fish left of their own accord, and the shark rinsed his teeth by pulling water into his mouth and then closing his mouth and shooting it back out again. It was the neatest shark thing I have ever seen! The little fish swam away and Logan followed them to the other side of the tank... they were totally fine and probably looking for another shark to pick lunch off of. Now I have seen these fish cleaning the outside of the sharks, but inside their mouths? They seriously went so deep I was afraid the shark was going to swallow them just by reflex. It was amazing!
Then we went into the touch tank area, and the lady presenting had a good 20 minutes of no one but us in there, so she was talking all about sea creatures and the ones without brains, and what happens when we pour things into the water, etc. Cyan was enraptured by the whole thing and sat listening to her and petting the sea cucumbers (with one finger) for the whole time.
Logan started to get restless, and so we went through the Sea Horse exhibit. All of them were out and playing. They were going all over their tanks and even the tiny itty bitty ones (no bigger than a pea) were moving around so Logan could see.
Then I collected Cyan from the touch tanks and we go downstairs into the viewing area of the aquarium. There are rows of huge tanks on the outsides of the aquarium and then the huge tank in the center. We were lucky to have gotten there just as they were feeding the octopus. There was a plastic maze looking box in the center of the tank, with two dead fish in it. And as we watched, the octopus started coiling... rolling... writhing around. You couldn't see what part was what. It was just a mass of tentacles. Then, it struck out with it's tentacles and reached towards the box. It didn't get anything, so pulled back under this rock that looked FAR too small to fit it, and after a few minutes, tried again. It never got the box while we were there, but WOW... it was amazing to watch. I have never seen anything like it. It reminded me of the movies where the giant squid come up over the edges of the boat with the tentacle coiling and pulling the boat down into the water. Honestly, it looked just like that... only smaller.
It was an amazing trip. The kids spent the whole morning writing about what they saw and looking up different fun stuff in their animal encyclopedias. Cyan drew an awesome picture of a octopus, and Alex wrote on eel and sea stars.
Fun fact learned: I always thought that one octopus is called "octopus" and two were called "octopi", but apparently not. Apparently Cyan has had it right all along... it is "octopuses". Who knew?
(I didn't bring my camera that day... so the pic above is from the zoo website.)