Just when you think you can’t stand one more day stuck in the house, either because it’s too cold to go out or because it’s raining, God smiles and gives you a little glimpse of what’s waiting right around the corner – warmer temperatures, sunshine, and just around the next corner . . . spring!
We had a beautiful weekend at the lake – too beautiful to think about finding something new to blog about, so today I’m just going to share a few photos from our trip to the Flint Riverquarium a couple of weeks ago. I never heard back from the curator, so I’m not going to be able to identify too many of the “creatures”, but maybe you’ll just enjoy the virtual tour of our little south Georgia version of Atlanta’s GIANT Aquarium!
Sally and Ed, good friends from the ri'vah, and Ted and I. Sally and Ed had never gone through the Flint Riverquarium, so in kind of a belated birthday thingy for Ed, we invited them to go with us to Albany for lunch and a visit to check out this fairly-new Albany attraction. (Geez, I have GOT to stop wearing that scarf! In every picture I post lately, I look like I'm channeling a 101 Dalmations!)
The RiverQuarium is located on the banks of the Flint River, which is one part of the ACF (Apalachicola/Chattahoochee/Flint) River Basin, a watershed that includes parts of Alabama, Georgia and Florida. The river system begins with the Chattahoochee River in the Blue Ridge Mountains of north Georgia, and the Flint River, which begins as ground water seepage at the mouth of a concrete culvert in Hapeville, an Atlanta suburb. That water quickly disappears under the runways of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport as it flows south through that culvert. It is joined by water from tributaries such as Sullivan, Mud, and Camp Creeks, and by the time it has traveled 50 miles south of Atlanta, it has turned itself into one of Georgia's most scenic and diverse rivers. The Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers flow into Lake Seminole, parts of which rest in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. From that lake, the Apalachicola River flows through the panhandle of Florida and empties into Apalachicola Bay in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Flint River flows through Lake Blackshear (the lake we live on) on its way to Albany, where the Flint Riverquarium stands. Our lake was formed in the late 1920’s by the construction of a power dam and is approximately 20 miles long, rarely more than one mile wide, and covers approximately 8,500 acres. (I promise, before we return to Michigan, we will take the boat over to the dam for a photo session.)
And I’m sure that’s way more history than anybody wanted to read on a Monday morning.
Big Al, a 50-lb Alligator Snapping Turtle, hides his head under a rock. We had to walk outside and look into this tank from there to see his head.
Several Gopher Tortoises. Did you know that all tortoises are turtles, but not all turtles are tortoises? Be either - but it's true. Turtles have adapted to living in the water and can hold their breath. Tortoises are land animals and only enter the water to clean themselves or drink. In fact, they would drown in deep water. Tortoises are unique to the ecosystem because of the burrows they dig. Not only are the burrows home sweet home to the tortoises, but nearly 250 other species of animals (including snakes, skunks, frogs, possums, rabbits, quails, and armadillos) will use tortoise burrows as their homes also. Take away the tortoise from an area, and there are going to be a lot of homeless animals!
Pretty Fish #1.
Pretty Fish #2.
Pretty Fish #3.
Oyster bed Exhibit. Oh my gosh, you haven't lived until you've eaten Apalachiocola Bay oysters! Throw 'em raw on a saltine cracker, pile on the horseradish and the cocktail sauce, and put the whole thing in your mouth at one time. Uh-uh, good!
Your basic rattlesnake. Unfortunately, Georgia is full of them, including where we live, although because we live on the water we get more water moccasins than rattlesnakes. These mean suckers show up in our yards during the summer, or we'll see them crossing the roads. The only thing you can do with a rattlesnake is avoid it or kill it. We've done both.
The highlight of the Flint RiverQuarium - the Blue Hole. Blue holes are the natural springs that rise from deep underground caverns in southwest Georgia. The water remains at a constant 68 degrees, which inhibits bacterial growth and allows the clear water to reflect the color of the sky. We have a blue hole in our lake and several other natural springs that feed the lake. When our dam broke in 1994, and the lake emptied, many of the springs were found because they continued to bubble up.
The Blue Hole exhibit is a 175,000 gallon tank that is 22 feet deep. It holds over 120 kinds of fish, turtles, and alligators . . .
. . . including several huge Atlantic Sturgeon, which occupied the Flint River until the dam at Lake Seminole was built.
The Cypress Pond Aviary is a new exhibit that houses several kinds of birds - including waders - ducks, and a goose.
A beautiful Wood Duck.
I almost missed this Quail - he blends right in with that pine straw.
Most of the inhabitants of the 35' high aviary enclosure have come to call this sanctuary home after initial treatment by rehabilitation and animal rescue groups. The Flint RiverQuarium works closely with those groups to obtain non-releasable birds - like this Blue Jay, which almost landed on my shoulder . . .
- . . . and this happy Robin from one of my headers last week.
We didn’t make it into a separate building for the Imagination Theatre which is part of the RiverQuarium. There they show fantastic documentaries shot thousands of feet below the ocean surface, or miles above the earth, on a screen that is three stories high and four stories wide.
That’s the tour, and if you follow this blog locally, and have never had a chance to visit the Flint Riverquarium, I hope maybe you’ll want to check it out. I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of what there is to see and do there . . . and if you have children, they will LOVE all the neat interactive games and exhibits . . .
. . . like this tunnel built for children that Ted just HAD to try out. I promised I wouldn't tell you that he almost got stuck, but I had my fingers crossed, so that promise didn't count!
See you back here later in the week with whatever I find going on at the ri’vah – or close by!