Jerry and I were wending our way through the South Pacific section of the Aquarium of the Pacific. Tanks lined the wall and cylindrical tanks dotted the center of the long, curved hallway. We’d seen marvelous things: a puffin that entertained the crowds with exuberant spiral dives to the bottom of his tank; gigantic spiny lobsters, ethereal “jellies,” fish with brightly colored spots or stripes and funny faces, coral fronds that seemed to dance to unheard music.
We came around a bend and saw the EXIT sign beckoning us. There was one last exhibit in a pillar of glass. We would glance at it in passing.
Except that when I glanced at the setting of tall green plants, then looked again to see what, if any, creatures were hiding in the foliage, I did a double take. The creatures were the foliage. Or rather, the foliage was part of the creatures. These were seahorses, but horizontal–and huge! They were mermaids–but leafy! They were graceful but covered with spines, not scales–and with trumpets for snouts! They were–
They were, according to the sign on their glass cylinder, Leafy sea dragons. Phycodurus eques.
I caught my breath in wonder, then put my camera flat against the glass and took this picture. What hath God wrought! What amazing creativity! I thought I’d seen every creature God had designed. If I had not believed in Him up until that minute, I would have believed then, just because of Sea-dragons.
Here is a poem (unpublished) I wrote years ago to honor another aquarium:
After a day
at the Aquarium,
dark, wet sea otters,
furry chests as tables,
from between their paws;
Dr. Seuss-like creations
on tall pink tubes–
sole breaded in sand;
octopi flowing like fluid–
we stroll uphill
to a restaurant
and order seafood.