This column, That Nature Show, is about the nature right under your nose: in our backyards, playgrounds and parks! Stop and look around, you’ll be amazed at what surrounds you.
On exhibit at the National Aquarium is the world’s most outlandish rock star. The mantis shrimp. Think colorful pop Katy Perry meets the incredible range of Freddie Mercury, but with a Hulksmashing claw fast as a bullet (according to Wikipedia, “some larger species of mantis shrimp are capable of breaking through aquarium glass with a single strike from this weapon” and vision so much better than ours that RadioLab compared it to a full chorus.
Move waaay over foxes or “Put a bird on it” from Portlandia, the mantis is having a moment. I predict hipster mantis shrimp t-shirts this summer. You might even find me rocking one underneath a pastel colored crop top jacket, that — horrifyingly for anyone who remembers the 80s — are back in again. WWTMSD? (What would the mantis shrimp do?)
Adopting an animal can bring so many joys into a home. There’s the constant companionship, the soft fur you can run your hands along, the days spent strolling through the park chatting up other parents of mutts. Sure, those things are alright. But what if you want a pet that can excrete a totally unique toxin from its scales when it senses danger or feels just a little stressed out? You’d have to track down the mother of a longhorn cowfish. And then convince it that your covetous self wasn’t worthy of her toxic spray. Unlikely. Especially if you don’t speak Cowfish. But luckily, the folks at the National Aquarium have anticipated this debacle and are offering Aquadopting—the opportunity to “adopt” (yeah, okay, you don’t get to take the cowfish home with you) an animal at the aquarium.
The Aquarium has more than 16,000 hungry mouths to feed and they are committed to providing all of them with the best care. Aquadopting helps offset the high costs of veterinary care and food. Aquadopting makes a great holiday gift as well—it’s not only fun, but also educational. When you find yourself wondering what you can get for the person who has everything, think “cowfish.” Adoption packages vary based on the level you choose, but can include a personalized adoption certificate, fun facts about the animal, a cuddly plush version of your adopted animal, and even tickets to the aquarium.
To find out more about Aquadopting, visit www.aqua.org.