Monday, July 12, 2010
A Day at the Aquarium
Today the chemistry class took a break from its normal lab and lecture format to visit the Coney Island aquarium. The bus ride there took approximately an hour and a half and I was able to get some sleep along the way. The professor apparently knows the aquarium’s curator so we were taken on a tour of the figurative backstage of the aquarium. We first visited the coral growing area where the environment is heavily monitored to produce optimum growing conditions. Among other things the calcium concentration in the tank must be kept within an ideal range so that the skeletons of the coral remain strong while at the same time calcium bicarbonate is prevented from forming and precipitating out of the solution.
After the coral area, the tour moved on to the filtration system that was being built in preparation for a new exhibit. The filtration system is apparently fairly elaborate and greatly surpasses the current technology of the museum which only partially filters sea water and is thus susceptible to changes in the environment.
At the tour’s conclusion we all had lunch then were given some time to explore the aquarium on our own. There were a wide variety of things to see, too numerous to list here, although my favorites were the marine mammals such the seals and the walruses. What impressed me more than anything were the trained sea lions and their aptitude for following the orders of their trainers. Overall it was a fun little diversion from our normal schedule and it’s always nice to see new areas of the city.