Those that are close to me and read this blog know that my life has been, how should I say this, insane of late. Work keeps me hopping during the daylight hours and my personal life tends to keep me up all night as well. This has created a semi-constant state of sleep deprivation. Confusion, exhilaration, satisfaction, delirium and times of utter contentment abound.

One of the times of contentment was yesterday afternoon. We went to the Georgia Aquarium late in the afternoon when the crowd was more manageable than on a weekend. My companion had never been there, I have been a few times before and I really enjoy the place, with an exception. I hate seeing animals in captivity.

I love being able to get close to critters, but I prefer to do it on their terms in their place. I understand the purpose of the zoos and aquariums, but when I see animals like beluga whales in captivity I feel an overwhelming sadness for them. I don’t know if I think I feel their sadness, or if it is purely sympathetic. I know how ridiculous it sounds, so don’t bother telling me, it’s only a feeling.

The importance of the aquarium was well evidenced yesterday while we were observing the beluga whales. A toddler walked up with mom and dad in tow when I heard, “look Tommy, its the whale sharks” spoken by his dad. His mother spoke up and said, “no Dad, those are beluga whales.” I know I can’t expect everyone to be able to recognize beluga whales when they see them, but come on, at least look at the freaking exhibit legend before misguiding your kid. You just paid $100 for your family to come to the aquarium, shut up and learn something from the experience.

Anyway, back to utter contentment instead of contempt. In the Ocean Voyager exhibit we were standing at the big window watching the whale sharks, grouper and a myriad of other species and I imagined being able to glide along beside those gentle giants seeing the ocean from a native perspective. For a moment I was in the ocean again, weightless, no worries, no politics, no stress.

If you live in Atlanta, or come to visit and you haven’t been to the Georgia Aquarium you need to go. The whale sharks alone are worth the trip.

-Dave Wagner looks forward to diving with the whale sharks in July.