The life aquatic

On a whim, decided on a Monday jaunt to Coney Island. The New York Aquarium has been there on the boardwalk since the 1950s but it’s all pretty modern, with outdoor enclosures for seals, penguins, otters and walrus as well as all the usual fish, sharks, rays, etc.

There’s something otherworldly about aquariums. All these winding dark passages, glowing eerily with blue light from the tanks – these walls of thick glass like windows onto another planet. Jellyfish that seem to glow fluorescently in the dark, anemones like alien life forms.

While the past few days’ explorations have been soundtracked by folk music, there’s something about aquariums – the artificial light, the jarring strangeness – that calls for electronic music, and the Chemical Brothers’ Further worked a treat. “Another World”, indeed. One of my favourite memories of San Francisco was these parties they’d have once a month at the natural history museum (which included a planetarium and aquarium), when they’d keep it open late at night, serve cocktails and have DJs. It was nuts.

Here in New York though it was very much a Monday afternoon, and I felt like Gulliver among the swarms of kids on school excursions. I think my favourite part was the walrus feature. They have such funny faces, like whiskery fat old men, and seem to leer at you cheesily. Plus they’re absolutely enormous, and yet they flip and slide through the water effortlessly. This one was quite the showman, speeding toward us from the far side of the tank and then somersaulting right down the glass, so the kids could stare into his eyes, squealing all the while…

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