Coral reef photo safari at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium

December 8, 2007 | By | Reply More

I’m in Chicago with my nine-year old daughter and Shedd Aquarium was an important destination for us.  We spent much of our Aquarium time at the Wild Reef exhibit. 

The coral reefs of the world support about a quarter of our sea life, so they are immensely important, yet humans are destroying them in a wide variety of ways. 

                Shedd at Night.jpg

As important as the reefs are to world ecology, reef life is also stunningly beautiful.  You can see these communities up close at Shedd.  The irony is hard to ignore whenever you can view warm water life in Chicago while it’s bitterly cold outside. 

Shedd Aquarium does a wonderful job displaying its marine life.  It’s difficult to stop taking photos, if you have a digital camera. I took more than 100 photos, then deleted many of them, leaving about a dozen photos I liked.  The challenge is not finding beautiful scenes to photograph.  The Aquarium is full of such opportunities.  The challenges are the low light conditions (no flash photography allowed, for the protection of the animals), combined with the quick movements of some of the creatures.  Note:  I took all of these photos with a Canon A700, a modest consumer-grade digital camera that is about 2-years old.  Also, these photos are only minimally retouched.  Comparable scenes await anyone interested in traveling to Chicago to visit Shedd Aquarium.

Many of the organisms living at a reef look like underwater plants, but they are actually animals.  Those animals include the corals themselves, as well as sea anemones, sea urchins. crinoids and sponges (for more on our sponge cousins, see here–actually all living things our the cousins of humans).  Some of the reef animals simply sound like plants, such as sea cucumbers.  To learn more about the lives of corals, wonderful footage and explanations are included in David Attenborough’s Blue Planet series, which costs $43 at Amazon.  As an aside, I can’t believe the large number of people who consider $43 to be too much to spend on a educational documentary of breath-taking beauty, yet they will spend more than $100 many times each year to take their families to watch their favorite sports team play games.


Without further ado, here are some more of the incredible (and incredibly beautiful) things you can see at an ocean reef (or at the Shedd Aquarium):


This display includes several jelly fish pushing up against the glass and against the bottom of the display (the jellies are about 5 inches in diameter).  Members of this species of jelly fish hold their tentacles out (rather than dangle them down) to capture prey.


My daughter viewing one of the elaborate displays of coral at Shedd Aquarium.


Garden eels stick up out of the sea floor.   


My favorite animal counsin, the sponge.



Home-grown coral, at Shedd Aquarium.


A lion fish says good-bye.


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Category: Environment, Evolution, global warming, photography, Science

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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