Did you know that starfish can generate new arms– and, sometimes, entirely new bodies?
Or that seahorses mate for life?
I sure didn’t. And even Dmitri, who has a pretty impressive store of factoids about various animals, was excited to add these little tidbits–acquired during our visit to the Texas State Aquarium yesteday afternoon–to his repertoire. We were lucky enough to see huge jellyfish, observe incredible sea turtles, and my husband even stuck his hand into a pool full of slimy stingrays (who had, of course, been relieved of their stingers). The real highlight of our excursion, however, was watching a totally-trasnsfixed Lily during the dolphin show.
She loved the splashing– we are way into bathtime splashing these days– and the clapping and waving that the phenomenal trainers encouaged. But she was most impressed by the truly amazing dophins as they dove, flipped, and flew through the air. I’m sure that part of the draw for her was the surprise factor; after all, she was never quite sure when one of their sleek, powerful gray bodies was going to emerge from the big blue pool. I, however, was most amazed by the fact that–right in front of our eyes–she was processing and integrating brand new images and information at lightning speed, which gave us a much greater understanding of what real learning, and real enthusiasm about learning, should look like. And even though Dmitri and I have been to a number of zoos and beaches and aquariums, we both felt like we were seeing familiar wonders with brand new eyes.
Yesterday, I learned that a dolphin’s dorsal fin is as unique and individual as a human’s face, and that sea turtles can’t retract their heads or limbs inside their shells.
And I discovered that nothing– absolutley nothing— is as gratifying as is watching the ones that you love experience new and things for the very first time.