Sarah Mirk wrote about this when it opened but I'd like to add my two cents. Specifically how it feels like the whole thing was built for about two cents.
I love aquariums (aquaria?) more than almost anything and this one is not without charm. Watch crabs crawl over each other and not get caught by the Deadliest Catch guys! Marvel at how lion fish seem like they probably shouldn't be able to swim. Touch an iguana that doesn't belong in an aquarium, but also care you're touching it! Very exciting stuff.
The moray eel is especially cool even if I wonder whether he ought to be swimming among ruined eastern religious icons.
But they've been open for a couple months and it already (still?) feels remarkably rundown. Not only are the kids still touching fish unsupervised, the whole thing could really use a coat of paint to feel like a place that didn't just steal a bunch of fish from a pet store and squat in a closed restaurant. More troubling is that almost half the displays don't have any kind of signage. There's room and wiring for signs, but an entire wall lacked even temporary labels for the fish.
The mural of happy sea life is on the creepy side. Here's my favorite character whom I'm calling Killy The Crack Whale.
One corner near the still-absent puffins/otter display has this, a TV showing Blue Planet without sound above a completely unlabeled world map.
Still it seems popular with the children who were running around it on a Sunday afternoon giving fish the flu by touching them and then wiping their wet hands on my pants. So many were packed into the tiny space that it felt extremely claustrophobic even in the 6-foot atmosphere.
I think it's still worth the trip down McLoughlin (although I wish there was a pre-puffin price), but mostly I just want it to be a little bit better. The tacky aquarium is neat—but we're a big enough city that we could have an aquarium that doesn't feel thrown together, right?
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