June 2, 2012

Discovering Atlantis

On Thursday, I chaperoned a field trip with the elementary school to the Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center (formerly known as Atlantis Marine World). At 8:15, I flung my bag over my shoulder and climbed aboard a yellow school bus for the bumpy ride out to Riverhead. It's kind of funny -- my second job every afternoon is to drive school buses; while I've driven the yellows countless times, I myself am rarely a passenger on one. It was a different perspective, to be sure.

By 9:15, the bus pulled into the circular driveway in front of the aquarium. The group stepped off of the bus and was immediately directed to a boat called the Atlantis Explorer for an ecological tour. Under the bright morning sun, the boat left the pier and glided through the brackish waters of the Peconic Estuary (passing nesting osprey, cormorants, and swans) and emerged in Flanders Bay. Soon, the boat landed at a small island covered with Spartina Grass and Reeds. I was given a check list and told to search the island for as many items as I could find. It was here that I learned about creatures such as Channeled Whelks, Mud Snails, and Bay Scallops. I really enjoyed exploring the island; it was such a beautiful and free setting that I just wanted to stay there all day.

After the boat tour, the group was taken back to the pier for lunch and then set loose to roam the aquarium grounds. The place's decor intimates a mythical atmosphere with exhibits stretching both indoors and out. I strolled wide-eyed through a labyrinth of vivid tanks housing many fascinating creatures of the deep. The surroundings sort of lent a feeling like I was on an Indiana Jones adventure.

The building even features two rooms dedicated to butterflies and birds. As I stepped into the latter, several tropical birds swooped down from the ceiling and perched on my backpack. One of them even tried to nibble on my mustache. The butterfly area is quite humid, but with a cooling mist that sprinkles down every few minutes. As with the rest of the grounds, the setting is magical and my eyes met with flitting butterflies everywhere I turned.

The field trip ended with a show in the aquarium's Sea Lion Coliseum. It had been a very entertaining day and I was glad that I had gone along with the school. Love & light...

"But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!"

~Amos 5:24