yes. DC has an aquarium. i only found out about it 5 years ago, when i first started working at NOAA and lied my answer to the "what did you get up to this weekend?" question. i still do, obviously. so when my boss asked me what wonderful sight i had seen so far in DC i quickly glanced at my tourist map, and instead of saying "the basement of the Townhouse Tavern" i picked out the first thing i saw, which i thought would be relative to my new oceanography career and relate my enthusiasm to my new job...the aquarium! yes! i went to the aquarium! it was beautiful! amazing! huge! of course, the memories i was confusing and replacing were from the Baltimore aquarium i had visited 15 years prior...he looked at me with a raised eyebrow and i'm certain he questioned choosing me as his employee.
it wasn't until 6 months afterwards that i attended the annual NOAA fish fry at the Department of Commerce. After security, the line to free fish and booze snaked through the quite disappointing DC aquarium. it was the most pathetic collection of dirty fish tanks i had ever seen. the descriptions were half peeling off the walls. the carpet was lumpy and smelled familiarly as those of the Townhouse. there was a miserable looking crocodile in a glorified bathtub who looked defeated by his inevitable fate of wasting away in a Roosevelt era government basement and probably dreamed of an afterlife as a purse - he could have easily swiped his tail at the low glass enclosure and escaped but seemed resigned with a, "eh, why bother" must-lose attitude. these creatures looked at you with the eyes of a recovering heroin addict, dulled by morphene derivates and devoid of any neural stimulation whatsoever. uncomfortable jitters flowed through the line as marine biologists, and fisheries scientists were uneasily eager to eat the copious buffets of seafood served in the courtyard...was it an opportunity to put these bored lifeless fish out of their misery? or something like that. anyway, the aquarium has been getting some good press lately, and this article lifted my spirits
octopii are way cool. if you didn't have to pay to get in, i'm sure there would be more people, but then again, i couldn't bare to imagine what a decrease in funding would result in. do me a favor, and go see the national aquarium. at least, you'll get to see a jelly fish, a crocodile and a groovy octopus. and hey, go out for calamari afterwards!