Shedd Visit

May 14, 2003
As instructed by Phil, yesterday I went to the Shedd aquarium in Chicago armed with expensive camera and I wondered if I missed the squishy things as I only found one octopus :octopus: and a couple of nautilus :nautilus: :nautilus: .

As you can't use flash photography (although I was the only person adhering to that particular rule), my mini-vid of the nautilus is grainy and black and white and too embarrassingly awful to post. The giant pacific octopus refused to move away from the top corner inspite of (or because of?) lots of kids tapping at it through the glass, poor thing. I went back three times and it hadn't moved so I took some pictures (bad) and a tiny vid of the octopus which I seem to be unable to attach, so a crummy picture is all you have for now.

I am due to go back there when my Ma and Pa visit me, so will try again then.

Does anyone know if I missed anything exciting? Saw Beluga whales, dolphins, sharks, large fish, small fish etc

I know I will have more luck tomorrow at the college I am guest lecturing at, they have a display in a case called "Cephalpods then and now".....

Have also attached a picture of the front of the aquarium , just to show how lovely it is!

(in Chicago :usa: discovering the delights of "cheese in a can" and the "Twinkie")
i dunno...i think you missed the main ceph exhibit.... i heard the were having some problems but it was quite hard to miss....
Hah! Cute one, Kiboko.

Ah, I love the Shedd! I know there are better aquariums out there, but it's so much in my heart, being a (sort of) Chicagoan... Sorry, forgive my ensuing fanboy ramblings...

I was at the Shedd just a couple weekends ago myself. You're right--they're limited to a GPO and a couple Nautilus at the moment. The Nautilus when I was there was remarkably seemed a bit unhappy about something, I'm pretty sure it was trying to get to another part of the tank but kept bumping into some structure near the surface.

I used to volunteer at the Shedd, as an "interpreter" (read: freelance tour guide.) The GPO's behavior is quite typical. In fact, you're lucky to have seen it in the position you did...usually it's more in a corner not against the glass. This is a small one, so I inquired, and indeed, they told me this is a new octo (as we all know, they have that very short lifespan.) From my experience volunteering, I've learned that you can ultimately get quite a display from the octo...but it will require much patience. You have to camp out by his/her tank until ultimately it decides to do some exploration. You can perhaps hang out in the galleries looking at other critters and occasionally glancing over to see if the GPO has attracted a crowd, as it most certainly will if it moves! Every time it did move while I was working there, I made sure to point out to the guests just what a rare treat that was to see. Sometimes it will get interested in an individual on the other side of the glass, which occasionally triggers these movements.

The Shedd has had cuttles on and off...currently, they have none. They have a couple jellyfish tanks, which are very pretty and have psychedelic lighting... :heee:

Other cool things? Unsure. Have you checked the tidepool exhibit in the Oceanarium (the whales/dolphins exhibit, it's near the sea otter tank.) That's my favorite...working that one, I'd snag somebody's attention as they walk by, heading off to the dolphins:
"Do you know what these are"
(pauses...gazes down...) "No..."
"Do you think they're plants or animals?"
"Um...gee, not sure...plants?"
"Actually, animals. They're sea anemones. Any idea how they eat?"
"No...are they kinda like jellyfish? Are they filter feeders?"
Then I explain nematocysts/cnidocytes and their close relationship to jellyfish and corals. Once I get to the exploding harpoons of venomous agonizing death, they're hooked. Meanwhile, they've been looking down into the tank the whole time...and from then on, THEY run the show:
"! Hey, what's that?"
"Oh, that's a chiton..." and so on. Essentially, we would (metaphorically speaking) gently insist that a guest stop, turn over a rock, and stare at what was underneath for a while. The longer they looked, the more they would see, and the more they realized there was some really cool stuff in there. Instead of going to see the lions, they're looking at bugs in the parking lot...and loving it. :madsci:

Might recommend hanging out by the Beluga exhibit for a while too, ESPECIALLY if you can get there RIGHT when the Shedd opens...I mean, be one of the first people through the door. The belugas are remarkably social, and after a long night they tend to like to "talk" to people...hover with their heads out of the water, craned toward people, chattering away. They're also quite mischevious...they love getting a reaction out of humans. They love to draw a crowd and then spit water at them (yes, they can reach you...) They'll occasionally try to get the attention of people at the glass in the underneath sections. And I once saw a couple of the girls draw a big crowd...whereupon the male did a spectacular breach right in front of the crowd, pretty much drenching several folks. I suspect the girls knew that would happen... :twisted:

Moog - two more non ceph things to enjoy while in the windy city -
A chicago style hot dog
Chicago deep dish pizza

maybe you can get one of the two with some squiddly topping?!?!?!


Part of me misses the midwest until I wake up everyday to the New Mexican Sunshine!
The best thing about Chicago is the part when you get to leave...LOL...just certainly is a great place to visit, and the musuems and art galleries are incredible! The food is superb, but I don't have a hardy enough soul to endure the weather there...great people, but shhhheeesh! It is cold!
Of course, here I am talking from the death zone of 120 degrees too...go figure!

p.s. don't forget the ribs! Chicago has some of the best ribs I have ever had, at a myriad of places! yummm!
cthulhu77 said:
Of course, here I am talking from the death zone of 120 degrees too...go figure!

ill gladly trade 30 degrees if i keeps the 75-80% humidity that we had a few days ago away....
central arizona has little to no mosquito problem either! but, it is like a blast furnace at noon...people drop dead fairly often! we are looking to relocate in the next few years to san diego or the like...a little cooler, please!
Yuh...heat-related death is a very underrated phenomeon. In the nastiest recent Chicago heat wave, the death toll approached 1000. Much like SARS or West Nile Virus, heat waves tend to take those who were already at greater risk or in poor health, and in dense urban environments you easily get poor people without air conditioning, or unwilling to pay for running it, plus overtaxed electrical distribution stations--on the hottest days you get the highest electrical demands. In the Windy City, of course, this leads to a cacophony of blustering politicians and pundits, with fingers pointing every which way, but the frank answer seems to be that nobody realized something like this could be a risk. The City put together a response plan afterwards, the utility upgraded key distribution stations, etc.

I wonder...would a place like yours, Greg, be better equipped to handle the heat and have fewer deaths as a result? Or do you still have a large amount, just spread a bit more evenly over the year? I know I certainly wouldn't like a hot climate year-round... :|

Here in Minnesota's Mall Of America, there's a cool place called Underwater World. They have an Octo in a tank at the end of the moving walkway tour that has ALWAYS been incredibly active. I've sat in front of it literally for hours in awe. I'm not sure of the species, and it's unfortunately not listed on the exhibit, but if you get the chance, I'd highly recommend it!

Thanks Rusty for an excellent informative reply back there!!! And I love the new-look shedd picture!

I feel much less hard-done-by now I know I was lucky to see the octopus where it was! I did see the dolphins, belugas, tide pool (tho' the attendant didn't seem half as enthusiastic or knowledgeable as Rusty). Good beluga tip, I will try it on the parents when they visit.

I took a lovely piccie of the jellyfish, blue and blurry as they wouldn't keep still, and will post it later when I can access it.

As for food, I have had a number of hot dogs, yummy, and tonight I'm going out for pizza! Can't eat ribs, being a medical-type, keep thinking of intercostal muscles. Have had WHITE CASTLE :yuck: , which sort of goes against the previous statement, who knows what's in one of them.

And it's hot! It was 80 something yesterday! That's practically tropical to a Brit! They laugh at me here, saying it will get hotter, there is no air con, and now I've added climated-related deaths to my list of things to worry about.....

Actually, I read a stat somewhere that said that White Castle hamburgers have the highest beef content of all the fast food burgers! Most of them are soy or worse...
Yeah, but which bit of the cow?
Nice and slimey, I got through 3 and a half cheesesburgers and gave up as I thought I was going to explode (they are v v small!).

Have attached the lovely jellyfish picture from the Shedd!
Moog, your gorgeous jellies make me regret that I only get to change planes in Chicago next week. Next time, I'll leave a day for Shedd.

I am afraid to know and yet simultaneously need to know why you shy away from meals of intercostal muscle.

Well, you get used to the heat after a year or two, and everywhere you go has ac units running 24/7...that and I typically drink 2 gallons of water per day in the summer, plus several showers and a dunk in the pool or so! It is only ungodly hot for about 3 months of the year, and being from Minnesota, I chose the heat rather than the excessive cold...hats off to you who can take the bitter temps back east!
Glad you had a good time in Chicago, Moog...I still like ribs though...weird structures or not...yum!
p.s. white castle burgers??? yikes. those are horrible!
am afraid to know and yet simultaneously need to know why you shy away from meals of intercostal muscle.

I put it down to the fact that I've taken loads of chest x-rays, seen an autopsy and various surgical procedures, ribs are just too, well, rib-like!

Similar reason to why I can't eat chicken drumsticks, they look like what they are/were. I won't even start on liver and kidneys!!! Yet I'm strangely unworried about the items they put in a hot dog, maybe this is my weirdness gene, I am Phil's sister after all.

As for the impending heat, I have from now till august to find someone with a pool, then it'll be back to cold old England!


PS Had chicago pizza tonight, v nice indeed,

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