Always ethereal, always eclectic, I write as the mood strikes, when there intrigue reveals itself. Usually that means something controversial or adventure of some sort.

I've tried really hard to be unprovocative, but have as yet been unsuccessful.

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

They're all staring at me. It's very unnerving.

Tonight was another three hours of training. I like what I'm learning, but after three straight days of training, 13 hours total, in addition to the regular work week, I am rather drained.

Most of tonight focused on safety, and how to work with the handicapped. No, not necessarily those with only flippers- though it was neat to see these two harbor seals come out to greet us as we went through the aquarium after hours noting fire extinguisher locations. (Not sealions- no external ear flaps.) As we came by they came up, I think expecting food. After one did a cute rolling trick into the water, I was very sad that I had no raw fish in my pocket.

The instructor did her best to make the safety and disability awareness training interesting. She had us wander around the exhibits with a partner, alternating as blind, deaf, or on crutches. Me and my partner were blind, and it was quite an interesting experience. Not that scary, as it was simply an extended theatre trust exercise, but it was illuminating. I was excited to be able to identify some of the fish sculptures by touch. I also realized I was finding my way around the aquarium using smell and sound- where the artificial Orca sounds are, or the pleasant smell of a North West rocky shore in the nearshore bird environment. My partnAndromedaer had to touch four animals of my choosing while his eyes were covered. I wanted it to be the sea urchins, but it ended up being just seastars, sea cucumbers, sanddollars, and anemones.

What he couldn't reach was one of our more dangerous and intelligent specimens, Andromeda, the female Giant Pacific Octopus. Her mate is sealed off from her through the entire year, with the exception of Valentine's Day. Predators sex is very dangerous in general, and especially for a species that tends to degenerate and die after mating.

Giant Pacific Octopi can reach 20' in length (arm tip to arm tip) and up to 397 pounds. Andromeda is much smaller than the record. The tube she is just a bit too large for me to wrap my entire body around. When I went up to her, she seemed very much to respond to my actions. Scientists disagree on their intelligence level, but most of what I've heard has been somewhere between a house cat and a 2 year old human. I was reminded of the line from Jurassic Park, in reference to the Velociraptors. "When that one looks at you, you can tell she's thinking."

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