My sister and I recently headed to the Aquarium with kids in tow, five of them age 10 and under, plus a teenager. Let's just say we had our hands full. We spent most of our time counting heads and shouting directions, but we soon discovered it was as much fun to watch the kids' expressions as the exhibits.
We explored all the regular favorites: rays, sharks, dolphins, rain forest. By the time we got to the Jellies exhibit, I knew our crew was tired and hungry. We had to wait a few minutes to enter, but watching these underwater ballerinas was hypnotic. The first tank was a tangley mess of tentacles. The next, short, stout little squirts. I never knew there was so much variety and every one of them was beautiful.
The exhibit focuses on how jellies are "environmental indicators" that let us know when our world is getting out of balance. The population of these prehistoric blobs ebbs and flows as their environment changes. As predators decline or pollution increases, their numbers give us a marker of their habitat's health.
Now I feel kind of bad. I've been dodging these guys at the beach for years. Okay, I will still do that, but I now, I promise, I'll dodge them with a bit more respect.
The National Aquarium in Baltimore
501 E. Pratt Street
Baltimore, MD 21202