A Visit to the Audubon Aquarium

New Orleans is home to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, and since I love aquariums, I decided to pay this one a visit during my final afternoon in New Orleans (I’m here attending Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention, which ended Sunday.)

One thing that sets the Audobon Aquarium apart is its emphasis on freshwater species, and species native to North and South America. The exhibits include a display of plants that grow in the Amazon rain forest …


Several oceanic tanks featuring sharks, deep-sea fish (like the alligator gar), and rays. Fortunately, I arrived at ray-feeding time!


A special section with Louisiana-themed exhibits even includes a tasty local favorite…the crawfish.


The seahorse exhibit was not as large as some I’ve seen around the world, but the seahorse tanks were beautifully kept and reproduced habitats the seahorses seemed to enjoy and appreciate. All of the seahorse specimens looked healthy and happy, from the darling little Lined Seahorses (the same species I keep at home)


To the giant potbelly seahorses – they’re not pregnant, despite those rounded bellies!


And the “Yellow Seahorses,” Hippocampus kuda:


Outside the giant “deep sea” tank, displays held two different diving suits, one from the early 20th century,


and the other a modern suit that allows a diver to work at depths of up to 2,000 feet.


Things have certainly changed since deep sea diving was in its infancy!

While watching the deep sea fish swim past, I had a lucky encounter with the giant sea turtle.


…and as always, I loved to watch the jellies swimming peacefully in their kreisel-tank homes.


However, my favorite exhibit — which I returned to more than once — featured a rare white alligator. The first time I passed by, the aquarium was busy and he seemed content to sit on the bottom, watching the people pass.


When I returned a few minutes later, things had slowed down, and he swam to the surface to get a better look at me. The look in his eyes made me grateful for the glass between us:


But, despite the visceral reaction his appraising look caused in me, I think he’s a magnificent, powerful creature, and I spent a long time watching him. I’d never seen an alligator as active as he was this afternoon, and he made me glad I chose the aquarium for last afternoon in New Orleans.