Mystic Aquarium

May 23, 2012 — Mystic Aquarium has been on my list of New England sites to see since I moved up here five years ago. Partly because many people have recommended it to me, but mostly because I love seeing slices of the ocean. Stick a glass-fronted cross-section of salt water and rocks in front of me, and I'll stare at it for hours even if there's nothing alive in there.

Last weekend, I finally sailed into the Mystic. It was smaller than I’d imagined, which is naturally the fault of my own imagination, but pleasantly spread out over multiple buildings and outdoor animal exhibits. It has everything you'd expect a major aquarium to have…sea lions, penguins, jellyfish, touch tanks, and about a hundred trawling nets worth of ocean fish, plus a few exhibits that made me excited enough to almost run head-first into the glass. Mainly that's the beluga whales. If you have even one of those (and Mystic has four), I'm coming over to see it, even if you do charge 3-year-olds $21 to visit.

Exiting the small mock-up of deep-sea submersible Alvin.
In addition, Mystic Aquarium just recently opened its Titanic exhibit, Titanic – 12,450 Feet Below, a permanent display that I'm a little two-ways about. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an amazing exhibit, just for the fact that they designed it to look as if you’re underwater at the actual wreck site.

A large mock-up of one of wreck’s corroded hulls dominates the exhibit, manned and autonomous underwater vehicles dangle from the ceiling, and lighting effects through throw wavy patterns on the walls and floor. Pretty cool and exactly what one would expect when your institute has deep ocean explorer Robert Ballard on its board.

On the other fin, the exhibit purposefully does not display any artifacts from the wreck site out of some sense of sacredness or something. I don’t know. I like artifacts. I’d trade an entire exhibit of cool props and interactive video to see a single salad fork from the sunken site. Just way more compelling to me. Besides, we have to do enough moral standing in this world. We should give our legs a rest when we can. Still, the exhibit is included in the admission price, and great reason by itself to go to the aquarium.

Also, the moray eel tank.

Favorite animal, hands down.
And I'd never seen so many in one place before.

Included because this is coming out. See you there.