Aquarium Snobbery


The Churaumi Aquarium up on the north end of Okinawa’s main island is not the best aquarium I’ve been too.

And the only reason I can say that is because I used to live in Osaka, which has the utterly jaw-dropping Kaiyukan. Honestly, If I hadn’t loved the Kaiyukan so much, and gone there so often, the Churaumi Aquarium would have completely blown me away. Really, I feel like a jerk not being about to tell you that the Churaumi Aquarium is the best aquarium I’ve ever been to. Honestly, I can’t say that. But that’s purely because the bar has been set stupid high. I had a blast at the aquarium in Okinawa. Definitely make time to go there, particularly if you hit a rainy patch on your vacation and you don’t want to hang out on a rainy beach.

Maybe I’m weird, but my favorite residents of aquariums aren’t the sharks or the rays. Not the jellyfish, either. It wasn’t the sun fish at the Kaiyukan back in the day, but that was kinda interesting, because you really got the vibe that this is a sea cow. My thing has always and will always be the cephalopods. Intelligent creatures with distributed brain power, high-resolution display skin, crazy eyes that see the world in ways we can’t imagine, and the ability to camouflage, mimic, and pop smoke? How can you not love that? I love that. I love photographing that. Octopodes are hard to photograph unless you catch them in the right mood, but usually the squid and cuttlefish are out and being interesting to photograph. But the squids and cuttlefish, they’re usually more open to a photo shoot.

Whale sharks are cool looking. I am definitely not as ensorcelled by them as by cephalopods, but their size makes them impressive. The Kaiyukan, and every aquarium with a tank big enough will have one or two of these gentile giants, so they’re not new to me. What was new, however, was watching a whale shark poop in the face of another whale shark. This photo, of the following shark recoiling in horror seemed about as easy to understand as fish body language gets. Also, it was hilarious.