Sunday, October 12, 2008

Maryport Aquarium

The Man of the Place has been away walking in the Lake District on Saturday and Sunday. During his absence my Saturday was spent re-potting houseplants, cleaning under the kitchen sink, cleaning out the cupboard where the pots, pans and baking tins are kept AND making some cookies and rice krispie treats. While I am thinking about it, if anybody wants an aloe vera plant please let me know, I have about 40 after I finished splitting my overcrowded and overgrown mother plant. Sadly the rice krispie treats are long gone. I think that if they are left uncovered, they actually evaporate into the air. There are still plenty of chocolate chip cookies left though.

Because the Saturday was spent in domestic service, I was determined to get out and have some fun today. It was decided that after church today George and I were going to go to a place recommended by a neighbour. We drove down to Maryport in Cumbria and visited the Lake District Coast Aquarium. It was a delightful, non-rainy day for a Sunday drive. North Cumbria with the Lake District near by (wave to Henry on the way past) is stunning. I'm so glad I made the effort to get out.
We stopped for lunch at Burger King in Carlisle before setting out.
Isn't my companion for the day a gorgeous boy?

The Aquarium isn't part of any chain of aquaria like the Sea Life Centres. It is a local business and they specialize in the fish that are found in Cumbria, both in the lakes and streams and out in the Solway Firth and Irish Sea.Sorry it's blurry - The front of the aquarium

George and I were absolutely charmed by the place. A staff member was leading a few feed-the-fish demonstrations and was so nice to talk to George and me afterwards. We watched him feed the octopi, the cuttlefish and the shark and rays. The sharks they had were local lesser spotted dogfish, other beautiful and manageable sized local sharks. The largest shark was just over a meter long and were in a shallow tank with a whole menagerie of rays. The rays kept poking their noses out of the water to be stroked/fed. When they weren't doing that they were flapping their wings against the side of the aquarium to splash us for not feeding them. The skin of a ray is a delightful combination of spiky and bony and ever so tender.

I really liked watching the cuttlefish get fed. I love how the chromataphores in their skin pulsate. I could watch them for hours. You should have seen the colours when these odd creatures were getting fed. One cuttlefish attacked another and tried to get its crab off him. The attacked cuttlefish turned bright red.

The octopi weren't as violent with each other at feeding time. Even though they can change their colour as well, they were a bit more subtle about it. When they feed the octopi and cuttlefish they use small live crabs that are caught just outside at the port. The aquarium has a couple of lobster pots that are bated with a fish head or two. The traps are thrown into the water and hauled out again in about an hour. The crabs they get from this small effort supplies the aquarium with all the (golf ball sized) crabs they need for the resident octopi and other sea creatures. The aquarium sits right at the edge of the port. It is a matter of about ten steps from the building to the edge of the port. Depending on the tide the boats are either floating or resting on the soft silty mud. Above are the boats in front of the aquarium when the tide is just going out.Now the tide is out! Those boats are actually resting on the mud and not floating in the water.
George balancing on the railing. Note that the tide is out in this picture.In the gift shop, I was attacked (Aliens style) by a giant octopus!I managed to get it unstuck from my face but then another octopus attached itself to my hand! I couldn't get it to let go so I ended up driving home with it.If you are a regular reader, you will know how bonkers my family and I are for mini golf. Well to guild the lily, this charming attraction also has a mini golf course!! George and I didn't want to get too excited or compete without The Man of the Place so we are planning to go back to Maryport very soon.

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