I find aquariums endlessly fascinating places. There’s something about the different worlds in those tanks that draws me in. It isn’t about the obvious motion of fish swimming (though I become entranced watching them) because I’ll stare into tanks full of anemones or starfish or sand dollars.
Usually, it’s quiet. Something about my focus on the tanks muffles ambient noise — the loudest sound at the top of the giant ocean tank at the New England Aquarium is turtle breathing. (The turtles break the surface of the water and gasp, but they don’t sound desperate for air.) When I’m up there, I love the way the water has enough ripple to warp my perspective as I stare down to the bottom.
A good aquarium visit brings me a certain peacefulness, yet also manages to stir up something good in my brain. I get the same kind of feeling when I visit an art museum, particularly when I’m lucky enough to visit when it isn’t crowded. It’s just me, the world in the images around me, and breathing.