Our Trip To New England, August 2004


Penguins, Mystic Aquarium. Contrary to reputation, 80 degree heat doesn't faze them at all.

In Baltimore we have a dolphin show; in Mystic there is a sea lion show. The one pictured is a baby, who spent most of the show barking, running out of place and trying to get fish instead of doing whatever he was supposed to be doing; this was much funnier and we all enjoyed it greatly.

Mystic Aquarium also has beluga whales in a large outdoor habitat -- two of them. We saw them being fed from a distance, and they popped out of the water and nuzzled the people feeding them.

This aquarium houses the Institute for Exploration, which has exhibits on undersea research. The current exhibits are on the discovery of JFK's PT boat and Robert Ballard's return to the Titanic, modeled above.

This is the ray touch tank, where people stand around with their hands skimming the surface of the pool to see if the rays will surface and allow themselves to be stroked. The rays like to tease, swimming almost to the outstretched hands, then turning and swimming back across the pool. Can't really say I blame them.

And this is the ray don't-touch tank -- stingrays and little sharks, which scoot along the plexiglas sides and show off their bellies and glare.

The whaling ship Charles W. Morgan, built in 1841 in New Bedford, MA, by the recreated cooperage, tavern, print shop, instrument shop and smithy. The entire Mystic Seaport village is a museum; the curators work in the stores, school, dockyards, etc.

Aboard the L.A. Dunton, a Gloucester, MA fishing schooner from 1921 and a National Historic Landmark vessel.

The Joseph Conrad, built in 1882. This ship has demonstrations on working aloft on a square rigger, manning the capstan and dealing with the threat of fire.

The shipsmith shop, the only surviving ironworks for whaling ships from the 19th century.

Some of the other "shops" with exhibits of barrel-making, chronometers and sextants, apothecary drugs, weaving, rope-making, baskets, traps...plus a school, a church, a couple of inns and taverns, and a bank. There's also a planetarium, a few standing exhibit halls that currently have displays on women at sea and sea dogs, and numerous stages where everything from chanties to improvs about pirates are performed.

The Sabino steamboat passing Lighthouse Point. This is down near the boat shed where people can rent various little craft to take out on the river.

Many of the exhibits, including the schoolroom and some of the boats, are hands-on for kids.

What's left of the schooner Australia. The skeleton of this ship is on display so people can see how the hull was built and the massive requirements for repairs. Mystic has a preservation shipyard to keep its ships restored.

Here's the Charles W. Morgan again. This ship has exhibits on whaling, some of which I loved -- seeing the quarters of the whalers, their clothing, instruments and mess kits -- and some of which I couldn't stomach, mostly anything to do with how the whales were killed and their blubber harvested and barrelled.