Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Oklahoma's Big Fish (and a chance at a great catch)

Please welcome to TDT Laura Ritchhart, blogger at Owasso-based Beach Bum Wannabe. She was nice and generous and long-suffering enough to put together a post on the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks for our reading pleasure. Be sure to drop by her site, y'all - it's one of the few things that makes me feel really sorry that Oklahoma is a landlocked state.

Take it away, Laura!

Photo courtesy Oklahoma Aquarium

We hadn’t been to the Oklahoma Aquarium since it opened in 2001. At that time, some of the exhibits were still being finished up. The other day we finally got around to our second visit, and I want to share with you all the Aquarium has to offer.

The Oklahoma Aquarium is in Jenks on the west side of the river near the Riverwalk Crossing. For directions and a map, click here.

Admission is $13.95 for adults, $11.95 for seniors and military, $9.95 for children 3-12 and children under 2 are free.

At first the price seemed a little steep, but those prices are really not much more than what it costs to see a movie these days.

Plus, if you have a current fishing or hunting license you can get a $2 discount, and if you think your family will visit the aquarium more than 2-3 times in a year, you definitely should get a family membership, which is only $85/year for a family of 4.

They also have student, grandparent, senior, military, and individual memberships, so there is something for everyone. Memberships not only save money on admission but also have the added benefits of $2 discounts on admission for up to five guests, a 10% discount in the gift shop and discounts on camps and other special events.

Okay, now that we have all the technical mumbo jumbo out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff: The exhibits!

I will have to warn you that I am very rusty on my low light photography skills and going to the aquarium really helped my cause in convincing Big D that I REALLY need a new lens (or perhaps two!) for my camera.

Oh, and if you are shooting in RAW mode on your camera, you may want to remember your extra memory sticks! *sighs* Someday I may have it all together! HA!

Here is where you begin. All the exhibits branch from this main hallway, which creates a smooth transition between exhibits.

There eight different “theme areas” in the Aquarium, with a wide variety of exhibits in each area. The Oklahoma Aquarium has over 200 exhibits in all.

First we walked through the Biodiversity Area, which exhibits various examples of aquatic life. I loved looking at all the amazing and colorful sponges, star fish and sea urchins. They were fascinating. I especially loved this purple sea urchin and pink sea slug. Wouldn’t want to come into contact with either of them, but their colors are so vibrant and fun to look at.

Next was the Adaption area. From my understanding, this exhibit focuses on the fish and sea life that are true survivors. They can change colors and/or take on the appearance of rocks, corral, etc. to camouflage themselves to help them survive.

I find sea life so captivating. In case you couldn’t tell, I absolutely love scuba diving and snorkeling. It truly is another world under water.

Photo courtesy Oklahoma Aquarium

The next area we saw was a fairly large exhibit paying homage to the fishes of Oklahoma. I’ve seen a lot of the fish that were on display, since Big D loves to fish. We are huge outdoor people, and we have traveled around Oklahoma and Arkansas snorkeling in streams and lakes. But t he size of the fish at the Aquarium are astonishing! I didn’t know Oklahoma fish got that big.

Ever heard of “noodling?” It’s the “sport” that drives crazy people to dive under the water and stick their hands into caves and crevices to grab and pull out big flathead catfish – ones like this one:

Um, seriously. What possesses anyone to do this? I should probably ask my brother. He is one of those crazy people.

Okay, these things freak me out. These are alligator gar. I so would not want to be swimming with these guys. They are HUGE - we are talking seven feet long.

Or this guy, an Alligator Snapping Turtle. Maybe his old age of 120 years might slow him down a little, though.

Not sure I want to go swimming in the Oklahoma lakes and rivers now. I think I like the ocean MUCH better. At least you can see the sharks and jellyfish - right?

Look at this sweet lil’ fella sunning himself. I would much rather swim with him.

THIS, ladies and gentlemen, is the largest blue catfish in the state of Oklahoma. He is absolutely enormous. How fun would it be to catch him? And then put him back, of course.

The Ozark Stream exhibit is really cool in that you can see through the glass into the multiple levels of a stream. There are small mouth bass, sun fish, and other native fish in this habitat, as well as a river otter, raccoons, and, of course, beavers.

In the Oceans Room, Aquarium goers can experience the Rocky Coast by observing and touching different kinds of sea life.

The Ocean Room also has all the gorgeous sea anemones, which I love. Here are a few:

I absolutely love the color of this one:

The Aquarium has colorful pictures, names, and descriptions of each critter in easy-to-see and -read light boxes.

The Ocean Room is also home to the stingray exhibit, where guests can feed and touch the smooth stingrays. They can even feel the back of a small shark, if they dare. Unfortunately, this exhibit wasn’t open while we were there, but I’d visit the Aquarium again, just for that. To make sure you don’t miss out on any of the exhibits or shows, check here for the daily schedules.

Just off the Oceans Room is the coral reef. It's a huge tank full of coral and colorful Caribbean fish, including parrot fish, eels, and the biggest porcupine puffer fish I have ever seen. This photo does not do him justice:

There are a couple of benches in the coral reef room so you can sit down, relax and just enjoy watching all the fish. It starts to feel as if you are underwater with them.

Who could forget the Shark Adventure area? It’s home to one of the most unique and impressive shark collections in the world.

The exhibit features a walk-through glass tunnel and dome - it feels like the sharks are swimming all around you. Having these massive, powerful creatures swimming toward you with a mouth full of sharp, pointy teeth and menacing eyes is quite the experience.

Photo courtesy Oklahoma Aquarium

Last but not least is the Marvels & Mysteries area. With creatures from the venomous lion fish and piranhas to the freaky octopus and mesmerizing jellyfish swimming around, guests can’t help but leave this room awed by these marvelous and mysterious underwater dwellers.

Staring at all that aquatic wildlife, it was easy for us to work up an appetite at the Aquarium. Grab lunch or a snack at Corkie’s Deli & Grille. The café offers a variety of sandwiches, wraps, snacks, cookies and refreshments.

Wish you could take home the amazing creatures you saw? Check out the gift shop for marine life galore (of the stuffed variety, of course), puzzles, books, apparel and more.

Keep up to date on the events and fun activities offered by the Oklahoma Aquarium by visiting its Web site often.

Museum hours are every day from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; the Aquarium stays open until 9 p.m. Tuesday nights. Keep in mind that the last paid admission accepted one hour prior to closing.

I know this post has been long, but there are still 180+ other exhibits I didn’t get to share with you. So, just for baring with me and to encourage you to get in on the fun, too, here is a little something for you.

Our friends over at the Aquarium have generously donated a One Year Family Pass (worth $85.00) to giveaway to one of our lucky readers. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment at BeachBumWannabe.com or here at TashaDoesTulsa.com telling us about your favorite aquatic animal.

Entry deadline is Friday, May 22 at 8:00 p.m. Tulsa time. Good luck, and see you at the Oklahoma Aquarium!


mybeautifulone said...

I love jellyfish! They are so fascinating. They are clear but they are living organisms...how does that even work?!


SpiffySilpion said...

I just watched a show on NatGeo about huge fish and I have to say I'm actually pretty fascinated by how numerous catfish are around the world (and that they can weigh hundreds of pounds)!

One of my all-time fears though would be to be stuck out on the open ocean alone. The thought of being eaten alive by sharks (or really, any wild animal) just freaks me out. So, how else am I going to get to see sharks and other cool aquatic animals if I don't go to the Oklahoma Aquarium, eh? ;)

Amanda said...

My favorite aquatic animal is the starfish. I find them to be rather intelligent creatures

Anonymous said...

not really a shark lover but that super cool tank tunnel at the OK Aquarium is pretty amazing!! Starting to think i may become fond of sharks!?


Shawna said...

I posted this one the other site as well, but thought you'd get a kick out of it - Our (my 3 year old son and I) favorite aquatic animal is the dead, stuffed octopus at the Oklahoma Aquarium. For almost 5 months I tricked my son into having a contest with it to see who could be still the longest. It wasn't until just this past visit that he figured out that it was dead. Now he says "Silly mommy, that sushi isn't even alive!"

beatnik said...

My favorite animal at the aquarium is possibly the puffers cause I love to watch them eat with the divers. But after thinking on the matter for awhile I decided it was the horse of course!

Courtney said...

I was JUST telling hubs today how much I miss going to the aquarium in Corpus Christi once a week with our membership. I would love love love to have this pass.

I haven't been to the OK Aquarium so I don't know what my favorite fish there would be. However, our favorites at the TX State Aquarium were the seahorses and the dolphins.

Meg said...

I personally love sea horses! I find them so dainty and fascinating...I love watching them swim around in their odd little way!

suburban hippy mama said...

I love the sting rays...they're so graceful and friendly...or maybe they just want to be fed? Anyway, the look on my boys faces are priceless when they reach down and touch one...the ocean is so magical!

Mel's Mom said...

We just visited the Aquarium for the first time during Mother's Day and it was fabulous!

My favorite aquatic creature is definitely a hammer head shark (Ok, maybe that's my hubby's fav...I'm not up on aquatic life!)

Thanks for another great giveaway!!!

Mel's Mom said...

We just visited the Aquarium for the first time during Mother's Day and it was fabulous!

My favorite aquatic creature is definitely a hammer head shark (Ok, maybe that's my hubby's fav...I'm not up on aquatic life!)

Thanks for another great giveaway!!!

Daniele said...

My favorite aquatic animal is the sting rays! My boys love to touch them. But the boys really love watching the sharks swim over them.

Meg said...

We LOVE the aquarium! The sharks are so cool to watch, but my favorite is the seahorses.

Anonymous said...

I love the sea otters and turtles. I moved here from Missouri less than a year ago and I keep telling my husband I want to go to the aquarium!


Marilyn said...

Well, I have to be honest, my favorites are bigger, and mammals of the sea ~ I love dolphins, whales, seals and manatees. I know we won't have these creatures in our OK Aquarium (I hope), don't want to see them in captivity, but I do appreciate the work and wonder of the Aquarium. I DO love sea otters - what cuties!!! They are doing a good thing there and I applaud them. Would love to have the family pass! Thanks Tasha!

Christina said...

There are so many to choose from, it's kinda hard to pick just one really, but I'd have to say I throughly enjoyed the beavers the our last visit. They were so entertaining - I probably took 20 minutes of video just watching them swim around and come up to the glass and put their hand/paw(?) on it as if they were looking for the same gesture back. Too cute!

Sori said...

I like the sharks and the shark tank at the aquarium best... but I think my kids would enjoy finding Dory and Nemo!

Christine said...

I like the shark tank that is so neat and my daughter loves to go in it!

Dave said...

I'm pretty sure someone's already said this... but I am fascinated with Jelly Fish. They're so inspiring, and so unique. Clear and fluid like the water they live in... yet alive! Not to mention if you ever tick one off, you'll pay for it.


cheryl said...

I never have been to the aquarim. But I do know some of the ones that are around by watching tv and listening in school. LOL! I find so many intriguing! But the one I found the most amazing is the dolphin. How they can jump in the air, how they are known to help save lives, and peacefulness they exhibit.

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