Snorkeling the Under the Sea exhibit at the Denver Aquarium would have been more exciting if I hadn’t watched it on every round I’ve made as a volunteer guide. Still my view from the top revealed a number of things I’ve never have seen from the walkway. An interesting fish approached and took a big interest in my gloved fingers. I knew that no snorkelers have ever been nibbled in Under the Sea, but thanks to that visit, I also knew that the dive safety team’s decision to glove against fish nibbles was an excellent call. Active moray eels are easy to spot near exhibit windows, but in the quiet recesses they drape themselves in crevasses and over a […]
It was the most pampered snorkeling trip I’ve ever experienced. Kim got me rigged up in top of the line gear, including a wetsuit that floats, then had me sit with my feet in the water while she slipped on my flippers! No waddling across the beach like a duck in clown shoes, no getting queasy in the waves, no fear of, drowning, drifting out to sea, animal attacks or boat strikes. No worries period. Any time I lifted my head, Kim was there with a float to steady me, answer questions, adjust my gear. Much as I love the ocean, […]
Dry-landers take heart. If you’re yearning to snorkel with sea creatures a thousand plus miles from the nearest seashore, Landry’s Denver aquarium will have you swimming with more sting rays, eels, fish, and skates than sea snorkelers can hope to glimpse. You may even spot some mermaids. Too calm for you? In another exhibit, you can scuba dive with the largest sharks in Colorado either as a guest or volunteer. It’s a great way for divers to keep in practice when a trips to the coast are such a strain. After a year of driving to Denver to work as a guide, I can attest that Landry’s is a breathtaking place to […]
On a rickety, hundred foot tower in the Peruvian rain forest, our guide couldn’t spot the toucans he’d hoped to show us. “I’ll call them,” he said, and pulled out his cell phone. We all laughed and watched as he pushed an icon and…played a toucan recording. The toucans came. I recognized their beak shape, but they weren’t Fruit Loops toucans–just dark colored birds we might see anywhere except for their profiles…that and answering phone calls.
Since 2009 the Dolphin Research Center in Florida has been partnering with the Wounded Warrior Project to ease severely wounded heroes into healthy civilian lives. Project Odyssey, named for Homer’s saga of a hero’s journey home, helps brain injured and PTSD warriors work through challenges and improve their outlook. The warriors participate with peers in a three day retreat which includes dolphin dock interactions and a dolphin swim. The atmosphere and activities are designed to invite warriors to connect with their outer world in a stress-free, nurturing environment. In addition to core goals of bonding with others on similar journeys, connecting with nature, and learning new skills in a novel setting, the program supports the warriors […]
After a walk in a Minnesota park I glanced at my shoes and started tearing my clothes off. Ticks were swarming my laces, storming my socks, and breaking ground on my shins. The battle was epic. In Florida, mosquitoes ravaged my legs right through my leggings until I looked like I’d been kick-boxing cactus. In Newfoundland, heavy clothes helped, but blackflies left knots all over my neck. Then a Peruvian butterfly garden specimen perched on my arm and begin shoving its proboscis at my skin…drinking my sweat? Steve may be right about my being a bug magnet. My parents used to call me “Sweetness” which sounds nice, but I’m beginning to suspect it […]
In search of attractions to add to our Deep South itinerary, I came across a coon dog cemetery. I like dogs and cemetery strolls, but I think it’s enough to know that this coon dog cemetery exists. If you’re thinking of adding it to your list, Labor Day might be the time to go. An annual festival includes Bluegrass music, hickory smoked barbecue, decorated graves, and a Liars Contest telling tall tales. No, really, it’s true!
The Denver Aquarium seemed like a good place to find audiences interested in hearing my Stirring Sea Secrets presentations, and it is, but when I contacted the education manager there I found I’d stumbled on a motherlode. Colleen Shipley’s standards for volunteer enrichment programs are stringent. Every driblet of information in my hour-long talk had to be cited to respectable sources. My terminology needed updating too. Starfish and jellyfish are now sea stars and sea jellies because they aren’t fish–the very sort of nitpicking I needed to bolster my confidence and credibility. Colleen’s passion for education keeps her running hard, but […]
Believe it or not most visitors to the touch pool at the Denver Aquarium take me up on the offer and get a thrill out of their hug. Why do these sea urchins gently squeeze our finger between their spines when we give them a chance? I’d tell you, but I’m afraid that if I look it up I’ll find out that the “hug” is an unfriendly reflex of some kind, and that would spoil everything.
When our local paper asked for wacky, wonderful job stories, I had to share mine: “Can I squirt him in the eye?” I felt weird being so blunt with the brave little geek in braids, but having graduated from high school in the seventies, I knew I’d feel weirder negotiating with five teens over shark tagging tasks. So when the grad students got our shark situated under their bodies, I got to test his reflex, and his eye membrane nictated nicely which meant that he wasn’t too stressed. On the next round I clipped a bit of tissue off another […]