Sunday was my first day doing the animal handling thing at the Aquarium. I had a ball. On the morning shift I took Burmese Python #2 (the albino) out to show the folks. I chose her because, although our biggest snake (at least among the ones that we handle), she is very docile. Just likes to wrap herself around an arm and lay there. For the afternoon shift I switched to Burmese Python #1. He’s quite a bit smaller but much more active. Spends lots of time crawling back and forth from one side of me to the other. Likes to nuzzle into my armpit and occasionally crawl up and peek over my shoulder. I had lots of opportunities to let children (and adults) stroke him to see what snakes feel like. It’s funny to watch how many look at their fingers afterwards as if they expect to find some slime or something on them. Since the Burmese Python was the one I was showing I also had a lot of opportunities to educate the visitors about invasive species and giving extra thought to their pet choices.
When I wasn’t doing the animal handling demonstrations, I was let loose to do interpretations wherever I chose (thanks, Kay). I found I was unable to pull myself away from the anaconda tank. The large female (15′ long and 95 lbs.) was really active. Downright agitated. Whereas she usually just lays in the water, rarely moving, on Sunday she was all over the tank. Every so often she’d get really jerky. And, let me tell you, when a snake that big jerks in a tank, lots of stuff moves around. I was kind of concerned about her and called one of the husbandry staff. He watched her for a long time and finally figured out what he thought it might be. She’s been shedding her skin lately. There are little convict fish in the tank that have been eating the dead skin. However, they’re not content with just cleaning up skin that had already been shed. So they would grab little pieces of dried skin that were still on her body. Unfortunately, they apparently weren’t completely detached yet. Sort of like a hangnail. So they’d jerk at a piece of skin and she’d do a mighty twitch. It must have really been bugging her because she eventually crawled completely out of the water and settled in the tree branch in the tank. Then she finally quieted down. It was fascinating to watch and to see the looks on the faces of the visitors when they saw her out of the water and realized how big she really is.
I have a great time at the Aquarium and will really miss it and the people I’ve met there when we leave.
I got to thinking about all the stuff I listed as “cruising niceties” the other day. These are the things that most modern cruisers (including us) bring on board to make life aboard easier and/or safer and/or more convenient. When I go back and look at the list, I realize that almost none of it is required for a successful cruise. Almost none. And, if I go back to some of the journeys that inspired me way back when (the Pardeys, the Smeetons, Bernard Moistessier, Robin-Knox Johnson, Jack London, Joshua Slocum, Robin Graham, Tania Abei, and the list goes on; none of them had all the stuff I listed and they all had many years of quite successful cruising. I can, however, make a good case for each and every item on the list. It’s just good to occasionally be reminded that we’re weighing ourselves down with all this stuff because we choose to, not because we need to.
We finally got some boat cards made up today. They aren’t the end-all and be-all of card design but they have the required information and don’t look too bad. At least we don’t think so.