I'm Steve Ember.
I'm Barbara Klein with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English. For thousands of
years, people have wanted to explore the world under the sea. Such activity was not possible until modern
times. Today, divers can survive for hours underwater and photograph fish and
other sea creatures.
everyone can swim with fish in the ocean.
But they can enjoy underwater life in another way -- by visiting an
do not really know when people began keeping fish as pets. But they say that
people have been interested in fish for thousands of years. Some say the ancient Sumerians were the first
civilization to keep fish in ponds more than four thousand years ago. The Chinese kept and studied carp and
goldfish more than one thousand years ago.
The ancient Romans kept eels as pets. And the Greek philosopher Aristotle
made what is believed to be the first known study of sea life, including sharks
say that keeping fish at home in small water tanks called aquariums is
extremely popular today. And everyone seems to enjoy visiting huge public
aquariums that have opened around the world.
the middle of the eighteen hundreds, science had shown that plants, fish and
other sea creatures could survive together under water. So it was no longer
necessary to change the water in a tank for fish to live there. This led to the building of the first public
The first one opened in London, England
in eighteen fifty-three. In the next
fifteen years, other aquariums opened in Europe and the United States. By nineteen twenty-eight, there were about
forty-five public aquariums.
Today, millions of people visit aquariums
in more than thirty countries. Steve
Feldman is an official
with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in Silver Spring, Maryland.
He says his organization has recognized
forty-one aquariums in the United States.
million people visit these places each year.
One of the most famous aquariums is in Monterey,
California. Officials say the Monterey Bay Aquarium has been recognized as the
finest aquarium in the United States. It is in a building that used to be a
kind of factory called a cannery. This
was where workers prepared fish and placed them in cans to be sold.
Monterey Bay Aquarium shows visitors the underwater life in the bay. Scientists at the aquarium also study the
animals and work to help many survive.
For example, the Monterey Bay Aquarium cared for
nineteen penguins from New Orleans, Louisiana.
They were rescued after hurricane Katrina struck the area in two
thousand five. These penguins were kept
until they were ready to be returned to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas.
Monterey Bay Aquarium also works to save the sea otter. Aquarium workers rescue lost or hurt young
sea otters and prepare them to survive in the wild. The ones that cannot be released are kept in
the aquarium and entertain visitors by swimming quickly and playing tricks in
especially enjoy watching them play with objects in the water. When sea otters find new objects, they smell
them, hold them, play with them and hit them against other hard objects. The otters hit their toys against the walls
of the tank in front of the happy visitors.
the center of the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a huge tank more than eight meters
high. It is one of the tallest aquarium
exhibits in the world.
The tank holds more
than one million liters of seawater and many different kinds of fish. It also holds more than one hundred kinds of
plants. Officials say the tank was built in the center of the aquarium because
it would get the most sunlight each day.
All this sun helps the plants grow -- about ten centimeters every
day. An official says the Monterey Bay
Aquarium was the first aquarium in the world to show a living kelp forest.
kelp forest is a kind of ecosystem established around colonies of a seaweed
plant called kelp. Kelp can extend between two and thirty meters or more from
the sea floor to the surface of the water.
These plants provide homes to many fish and other sea animals.
aquarium is also an education center.
Workers help visitors and especially children understand sea creatures
and their importance in the world.
Children and adults can see many sea creatures being fed and watch a
movie about underwater life. They can
even touch some of these creatures in small tide pools. Workers make sure visitors touch the rays,
crabs and sea stars very carefully.
extremely large public aquarium opened in Atlanta, Georgia in two thousand
five. The Georgia Aquarium says it is
the largest in the world. It has more
than one hundred thousand sea animals in thirty million liters of water. These
include two whale sharks -- the world's largest fish.
The Georgia Aquarium is divided into sixty different
environments called habitats. The largest holds more than twenty-two million
liters of water. It was especially
designed for the whale sharks and the thousands of other animals that live in
the ocean. The second largest habitat
was designed to copy the natural environment of beluga whales.
large public aquariums is very costly.
Most of the money to build the Georgia Aquarium was provided by
businessman Bernard Marcus. He and his
wife gave two hundred fifty million dollars to help pay for the building. The total cost was two hundred ninety million
dollars. Reports said that more than one million people visited the Georgia
Aquarium in the first six months that it was open.
Another aquarium re-opened in two thousand five in
Camden, New Jersey. The Adventure
Aquarium first opened in nineteen ninety-two. It spent about fifty million
dollars to expand its building and improve its exhibits.
can watch a hippopotamus in the West African River Experience area of the
Adventure Aquarium. Reports say the Adventure Aquarium is the only one in the
country that has two hippos.
exciting area of the aquarium is the shark tunnel. Visitors can watch
twenty-six dangerous creatures up close without fear. The tunnel is suspended in the middle of the
Even more exciting for visitors is the chance to get in
the water and swim with the sharks! Swimmers
wear special clothes and must follow a few rules. For example, they must not
make the sharks angry or make any quick movements. Swimming with the sharks costs more than one
aquarium that provides education and adventures with sharks is the National
Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland. The Baltimore Aquarium has more than ten
thousand sea animals. It opened in
Its shark adventure includes a tour with an expert to
learn about these ancient creatures and how the aquarium workers feed and care
for them. Children can even sleep near the sharks overnight. Children sleep in
the viewing area as sharks sleep nearby, behind protective glass.
National Aquarium in Baltimore also presents a dolphin show. It shows how young dolphins learn and develop
the skills they need to survive.
provide the public with many chances to experience life under the sea. These fun and educational places can be found
in most areas of the world. Visiting an
aquarium is a good way for children to learn about sea creatures. They might even want to start an aquarium at
home and join the millions of people around the world who keep fish as pets.
program was written by Nancy Steinbach.
It was produced by Mario Ritter.
I'm Barbara Klein.
I'm Steve Ember. Join us again next week
for EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English.