Saturday, August 27, 2011

Wildlife Excursion ~ Sea Otter Visit ~ Aquarium of the Pacific

June adventure; The Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, CA.

In an effort to further study the anatomy of the Sea Otter a great friend and I took a day trip down to the Aquarium in Long Beach
which houses a number of these little darlings.

On a previous visit, I found it next to impossible to photograph them in the exhibit tank.  This visit I  armed myself with pencil and drawing pad.  (I'm thinking I have this licked.  Not so much....)

There were three otters in the tank either lying on their backs bobbing or zipping around faster than the eye could follow. 

My main purpose for this visit of course is to study their anatomy and more specifically their underwater movements.  At this point I'm probably more puzzled than before.  It looked to me like they are double jointed in the back hind leg area.  But, with all the zipping going on, I was unable to figure it out.

Luck have it,  I was able to meet up with the Biologist who was ever so generous and enthusiastic about my enquiries.  My friend and I were invited behind the scenes where little Maggie, a nine year old otter
had been placed on restriction for pestering one of the other otters in the main public viewing tank.

                                           Curious Maggie

Behind the door entering the back where all the important maintenance goes on, we were instructed to whip our feet on a rubber mat with disinfectants.   Looking around there are huge steal tanks,
hoses and I’m sure more things I have no idea about left and right.

As we approach Maggies enclosure, she immediately jumps from the swimming area to the concrete platform and presses her nose to the partition of glass to inspect the new arrivals.

She was as curious as we were!  Through the glass we studied each other carefully.  She was equally as curious about my friend sitting behind me and kept craning her neck to check her out as well. 

After a gazzlion questions and drawings to confirm my suspicions, (and indeed they are double joined in the hind leg) I felt I had enough information to go home and work out the issues for the Pacific underwater painting which will include them.

I found the experience and opportunities to study them closely exhilarating for sure!   I’ve just cracked the surface really.  There is so much to learn about the ocean!  I think that is what is so enjoyable about what I do as an artist.   These experiences always fill me with excitement.