Living Wright: First trip to Oklahoma Aquarium puts end to sea-creature creeps
BY JASON ASHLEY WRIGHT World Scene Writer
Thursday, January 17, 2013
1/17/13 at 5:46 AM
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Fish creep me out. I'm cool with sushi, shrimp po'boys, blackened catfish, even alligator bites on a stick at the Tulsa State Fair. But live and wiggling? No, thank you. I blame the '70s flicks "Jaws" and "Piranha" for part of that.
Perhaps that's why I've never visited the Oklahoma Aquarium, one of the first places to pop to mind when I committed to writing once a week about area places I've either never seen or haven't visited in 10 or more years.
Keeping me company was Bro. GoGo, who rather immediately found Nemo - specifically, a tank holding a striped clown anemone fish made popular by the Disney-Pixar movie. I was more captivated by the jellyfish, though I became distracted by memories of that episode from "Friends" involving Joey and Chandler's remedy for Monica's jellyfish sting.
Anyway, we worked our way through the Marvels and Mysteries exhibit, spying things I've never even read about before - like the Gulf toadfish. Its eyes followed me everywhere, like one of those kindergarten portraits made of macaroni. Those always creeped me out, too.
"More people are killed each year by dogs, pigs and deer than by sharks," a sign read. Really? Deer I get, but pigs? I hope that's before they become bacon, not after.
I didn't tarry long near the piranhas, which freak me out. Thanks, Hollywood. But I was very excited to see the shark tank.
Granted, I did have a quick flashback to that unfortunate shark tunnel incident in "Jaws 3," but I was soon entranced. Standing there, looking up and around at gliding sharks, was surprisingly quite peaceful, relaxing. Even the lazy shark couple lying on the floor were fascinating. My nose practically pressed to the glass at one point: It was the closest I'd ever been to a shark. Very cool moment.
My absolute favorite, though, was the Coral Reef exhibit, which showcased what seemed to be the fish with the most personality. Some looked like they were laughing or talking to one another. Yes, I was sober. I can see why they were using that room to set up a party while we visited - with a buffet of shrimp, which I opted not to steal bites of out of respect for my new gill friends.
In the Ozark area, Slim Jim the Otter put on a show. The raccoon, obviously antisocial, did not. Raccoons are the koalas of Oklahoma, don'tcha know.
I lacked the courage to pet the stingrays, who entertained giggling little kids with their dads.
I can't wait to see the Sea Turtle Experience, for which the aquarium is currently raising funds. Not that I'll wait that long to return, now that I've made a soul connection with the sharks. I'll just have to avoid reruns of "Jaws" for the rest of my life.
Original Print Headline: Making fishy friends
300 Aquarium Drive, Jenks
10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily, except Christmas;
10 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesdays
$13.95 adults, $11.95 seniors and
military, $9.95 children 3-12, free for
kids 2 and younger.
For more, 918-296-3474 or tulsaworld.com/okaquarium.
A Pacific sea nettle floats in its enclosure at the Oklahoma Aquarium. MATT BARNARD / Tulsa World file