Good morning and greetings, Stevie Wonder fans. Over the spring break, my daughter Aimee, who is today’s special guest blogger, loaded up her camera and took a trip down to the
Monterey Bay Aquarium, where “The Secret Lives of Seahorses” exhibit had just opened, featuring more than 15 species of sea horses along with pipehorses, sea dragons, pipefish and the rarely seen gefilte fish.
Now, sea horses are not your typical sea stallions. For starters, they are the only members of the animal kingdom in which the males get pregnant and give birth. A video in the exhibition, captures the birth process, which climaxes with a series of backward thrusts until about a dozen babies shoot out of a male’s pouch. And you thought the Octamom was wild.
In the wet and wild, sea horses are shy and wary. But many of the species are vulnerable or endangered, as many sea horses are sacrificed to the souvenir trade, where they end up on mirrors or key chains. Others get scooped up unintentionally in shrimp-fishing nets or fall victim to pollution, development, or hungry fish. Still others take their own lives after failed acting careers.
According to Ava Ferguson, the senior exhibition director at the aquarium, sea horses are very susceptible to habitat loss. They reside comfortably in small condos in tropical or temperate waters all over the world, within coastal reefs, sea grass beds or mangrove forests – three of the planet’s most imperiled habitats. And much like myself, sea horses excel at hiding and keeping a low profile. They are masters of camouflage, adept at changing color, shape and texture to improve their chances of survival, which is the same way I describe my years writing sitcom in Hollywood.
“Surprisingly, people don’t know much about sea horses,” Ferguson says. “Even scientists. It’s very difficult to study them in the wild. But for centuries, people have incorporated them into their art.” They also pop up repeatedly in literature, mythology and driver-ed instructional videos. “The head is like a horse, the eyes are chameleon-like, the pouch is like a kangaroo and the tail is like a monkey,” Ferguson says. Their chameleon-like eyes move independently and in all directions, helping it to see food coming its way and to avoid becoming food but making it very difficult to buy sunglasses.
So without further ado, I present to you guest blogger Aimee Jennifer Gilbert, in her own words. As I walked into the new sea horse exhibit, I was amazed as everything looked like it had come out of a Dr. Suess book. Photo #1 is an unbelievable, seaweed-like animal called a Leafy Sea Dragon, which is a type of sea horse. With its graceful movement, it captured my imagination and in my head became a mythical creature. Editor’s comment: The leafy sea dragon, is perhaps the most unusual species in the exhibition. Only one person in Australia (Crocodile Dundee) has a permit to collect them, and each year he takes a sole pregnant male from the wild, raises its youngsters and distributes them.
Photo #2 shows three sea horses and a coconut shrimp. I loved this picture because everything was so colorful. If you look closely, you see the greenish-grayish sea horse hiding behind the fish, the yellow sea horse in front, and the brown one curled around the coral. Since these unique animals were in glass tanks with drops of water on the sides, it was hard to take a really clear picture. Editor’s comment: I loved Jane Fonda in “They Shoot Sea Horses, Don’t They?”
Photo #3 is a picture of a hungry tiger shark. As I looked at this tank I was starry-eyed because when I put my face up on the glass the shark was so close that I felt like I could reach my hand out and feel its smooth skin. It was a sight I will never forget. Editor’s Comment: You never want to get forechecked into the boards by an angry San Jose Shark. The previous comment was my salute to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The next photo is of sand dollars. I love their intense texture. When we find sand dollars on the beach it is their skeleton we find-not the real body. Sand dollars sit in the bottom of the ocean upright, brown, and fuzzy! You can click the photo to make it bigger and see the identical mark each one has on their shell. Editor’s comment: My favorite Clint Eastwood movie-”A Fistful of Sand Dollars.”
In the next photo, I think it looks like it’s snowing. Well, believe it or not, I came to that tank right when it was feeding time and all of those little “snowflakes” are tiny shrimp! This tank was very interesting to look at because even the camouflaged rockfish joined the busy feast. Editors comment: I was once involved in a similar feeding frenzy with the sweet and sour shrimp at the Hong Kong Gardens “All you can eat” buffet
The last photo came from my favorite exhibit. The jellyfish were beautiful because these phenomenal creatures were so bright with color that when they dimmed the lights everything was even more spectacular. There were glowing moon, orange, red and peach jellies. The most amazing thing was the little tiny jellies that sparkled with different color lights blinking on their sides-it was unreal. Editor’s comment: Hundreds of jellyfish known as Pacific sea nettles have been recently spotted in San Francisco Bay. One touch of their, long brown tentacles will result in a powerful, numbing jolt that can hurt for hours or sometimes days. Sounds like my wedding night.
So that’s it for my guest blog, but don’t worry, with any luck, I’ll be in the blog again! Thanks, Dad for making me your little guest blogger- you’re my favorite dad so far. Editor’s comment: In case you are interested, this exhibit runs through September 3, 2012. But you had better start saving your pennies as the aquarium is a tad pricey.
So thank you, Aimee. You know what they say, the macadamia nut doesn’t fall far from the chesnut tree. Now on to some late night humor. “Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the Somali pirates were all ‘untrained teenagers with heavy weapons,’ or as we call them in this country, rap stars. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder tried to put all this in perspective. He said this is the first act of piracy against the United States literally ‘in hundreds of years.’ Well, if you don’t count AIG, of course. And, you know, Obama is the consummate politician. You see him trying to appeal to the Mexican people? Like, he even changed his slogan to ‘Yes, we Mexi-can.’” –Jay Leno
“How about that Obama dog? Yeah, a little Portuguese water dog. And the dog, as you would expect, is not house broken yet. In fact, earlier today, he left a bigger mess in the Oval Office than Bush did. And you know they have Bo wearing one of those electronic collars. If he strays beyond the perimeter of the White House grounds he gets a little buzz. That’s to make sure he doesn’t — no, wait a minute, that’s Joe Biden. A new dog in the White House. I believe there hasn’t been a dog in the White House since that pack of semi-domesticated wolves that Cheney kept in his dungeon.” –David Letterman
“And today, they had the big Easter egg roll on the White House lawn. They always have it on Monday after Easter. But this year, because of the economy, they almost had to cancel the Easter egg roll. At the last minute, though, the United States government borrowed a billion eggs from China.” –David Letterman “George W. Bush has reportedly landed a $7 million book deal. The book will be about his years as president and is tentatively called ‘Decision Point,’ because every time Bush had to make a decision, he would point to Cheney.” –Jay Leno “President Obama on Thursday night hosted what may have been the first Passover Seder in the White House, and in a sign of the president’s popularity, Elijah showed up.” –Seth Meyers
So that’s a brief look at one of the world’s great aquariums, located right here in our central coast backyard. And we’ll be seeing more photos from the Aimee Gilbert collection in the future. On Saturday, we began our annual pilgrimage to the NBA mountaintop as the playoffs got underway with 8 games in two days. And anyone who has ever hit an open jumper is hoping this all culminates in a Finals matchup between LeBron James’ Cavaliers versus Kobe Bryant’s Lakers. But first we must experience TNT’s “40 games in 40 nights.” NBA action, it really is fantastic. So enjoy the warm days and we’ll catch on the inbounds play. Aloha, mahalo and later, Oscar Robertson fans.