Conservation, Photography

Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks, Oklahoma

My Husband and I have wanted to go to the Aquarium ever since we found out that Oklahoma did, in fact, have one. We’ve made plans to go several times, but each time they’ve fallen through. This week, we finally got to go!

We did a lot of research beforehand to figure out the best day; since it would be a two hour trip for us, we wanted to go on a day where we could experience the most at the Aquarium- especially since it would likely be the one and only trip we made to it. Eventually we settled on a Monday when all of the feeding shows were available. All that was left was to wait for the day to line up right- which happened to be when my Husband had a 3 day Weekend.

Archer FishWe set out at 9 yesterday morning, grabbing doughnuts from our favorite place before making the two hour drive to Jenks. We planned everything just right so that we’d get there with a little time to spare before the Stingray and Shark Touch Tanks opened. It ended up working out wonderfully for us- and yes, I got to touch them both. They feel incredible, and not at all like I expected them to!

Unfortunately I didn’t get very many pictures- and the ones I did get, I can’t put up as prints for y’all because of the Aquarium’s policies; the environment isn’t exactly friendly to Photography unless you have a low light setup and are good at taking photos of moving objects… And I’m definitely not, and I don’t. The few pictures I did get came out wonderfully, but I almost wish I hadn’t bothered to bring my camera at all. It simply wasn’t worth it in that regard.

One of the main highlights of the day, in both my Husband and I’s opinion, was watching the Sharks swim above us in the Shark Tunnel. They really are incredibly graceful creatures- more so than people would probably believe if they never saw them for themselves. And ironically, despite their (undeservedly) viscous reputation, they were the most calm we witnessed during any of the feeding shows that day. Indeed, the Striped Bass in the Oklahoma Exhibit, of all things, were far more brutal in their feeding than any other fish we watched- though the Banded Archer Fish were by far the most interesting.

Sea Nettle

Getting to watch the Manta Rays swimming around in the Ray Pool was also a highlight; Sea Pancakes (Rays) are by far one of my favorite Marine Animals. Getting to see how effortlessly- and fast- they swam through the water was an amazing treat. And the Jellyfish? In the end I was incredibly glad that I saved them for last. They were absolutely mesmerizing to watch swim around in their tanks.

I also really enjoyed getting to see their new Loggerhead Sea Turtle; I don’t know what I expected it’s size to be, but it was definitely much larger than anticipated! They really are magnificent creatures, and it’s distressing to think that many of them (including the Loggerhead on display at the Oklahoma Aquarium) are listed as being vulnerable to extinction. It makes me really appreciate what several Coastal cities in their territories do to increase their survival in some areas of the world- including Florida.

Honestly, the only thing I hated about the trip was the overabundance of children.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike children in any capacity. I think they’re great, entertaining, and witty- and often far more intelligent than people ever give them credit for being. But there were several in particular that had zero respect for the animals- disregarding signs, tapping on tanks, splashing in the water, manhandling the fish in the touch tanks, and so on; behavior that, had I been a child doing any of what I witnessed, I would have gotten in trouble for at their age.

Cardinalfish

What made me legitimately angry about the children, though, wasn’t the fact that the children were genuinely disrespectful both towards the animals in the exhibits, and the other Aquarium goers… But the fact that the adults in charge of them didn’t seem to care one lick that they were souring the experience for adults- not just myself, but others who were also very visibly upset by the rambunctious disregard of the children in question.

I understand that the Aquarium very clearly caters to children over adults. I’m fine with Children positive, Children focused spaces; with the threats currently facing Marine Wildlife at this point, learning about our Marine environment is so important- especially for younger generations. But there’s a line to be drawn between encouraging children’s education and active participation in these exhibits on the Aquarium’s side, and parents allowing their children to disregard the welfare and safety of the animals- let alone be disrespectful to others who are also trying to enjoy the exhibits as well.

Still, even if I couldn’t fully enjoy it many times? I still had fun regardless; it was definitely worth the two hour drive there.Signature Blue

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