Monday, August 12, 2013

Frogs, Whale Sharks, and Dolphin Show

Tonight's most interesting visitor at our bat survey site?  A beautiful pickerel frog!  These frogs are not known for their lovely calls, sometimes described as a "snore", but what they lack in voice they make up for in pattern.  The have nice square spots on their backs, which makes them easy to identify.  And if you aren't sure the spots are square and you think you may have a small green frog (it happens), just check their crotch and see if it's yellow.  Easy, right? 

Admiring the little pickerel frog made me remember this quote from Carolus Linnaeus, that I photographed in the frog display when we visited the Georgia Aquarium last week.  Linnaeus practically invented the classification system for grouping and naming plants and animals, and if you ever look at the scientific names of plants, you quickly realize that he named most of them.  He is probably the most famous natural scientist after Darwin, so I hate to disagree with him, but come on Carolus, aren't you being a bit harsh?  Frogs? Abhorrent?  I might have to agree about the cold body and cartilaginous skeleton, but other than that I think my pickerel frog defies his description.  The colors and patterns on the pickerel frog are quite striking, even jewel-like and shiny, and it was cleaner than my own hands.  As for fierce aspect and calculating eye - stop being such a wimp, it's a cute little froggy!  I admit I don't have an x-ray nose, like Brandon, but I didn't notice any smell, much less an offensive smell.  The pickerel frog does have slightly toxic skin, but unless you are planning on swallowing him, I can't tell that it's a problem.  Maybe Linnaeus didn't get to spend enough quality time with frogs to really learn to appreciate them.  I appreciate his poetic description regardless of it's accuracy.  

I thought the best part of the aquarium visit was the huge tank that had three whale sharks.  These sharks aren't even full grown, but they were gigantic and could grow to be the size of a school bus. The whale shark is a plankton eater, so we got to view a feeding where shrimp like food was dumped by guys in boats and the whale sharks sucked it up like giant shop-vacs.  

Since Jamie and Leigh are working in the same area as us, also catching bats, we were able to make a group trip to the aquarium.  

The rest of the aquarium was okay, but it was crowded and not as well organized as some that I have been to.  The dolphin show was terrible.  Not because the dolphins weren't up to par, but because the "show" was a Disney-fied attempt at theater, and the main character actually sang his parts while wearing a cape covered in flashing Christmas lights while standing in front of a giant screen with cartoons projected on it.  The show made every attempt to hide the interactions between the dolphins and dolphin trainers, which is what I enjoyed at the dolphin show we recently saw in Barcelona, and used the dolphins as dancing characters that at one point highlighted a violent fake fight between the main character and some hokey sea monster characters.  I was embarrassed for the dolphins.  Maybe dolphins shouldn't be forced to perform unless someone with some taste writes the script.  

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