Underwater Beauty

Oct 24, 2018

At Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, students will have unforgettable encounters with belugas and bluegills, stingrays and sturgeons, sea otters and sea stars, and so many more animals from aquatic environments around the world.

A new special exhibit celebrates the unbelievable beauty living in our oceans, lakes and rivers. In Underwater Beauty, students will enter a world of shimmer, color, pattern and rhythm; where jellies pulse, eels ribbon and a rainbow comes alive with reef fish. From this diversity on exhibit, students will see how every aquatic animal is beautifully adapted to thrive in its environment—and why this beauty is worth saving.

Aptly named silversides—small fish that school in a large, shimmering mass—usher you into Underwater Beauty. Don’t be fooled by their mesmerizing motion: In the open ocean, their mirror-like scales and synchronized swimming protect them by confusing predators.

From shimmer, prepare for a blast of color through a wall filled with fish in every shade of the rainbow: cherry barbs, orange anthias, yellow tangs, green tetras, the bluest of blue damselfish and purple sea urchins. As students drink in the colors, they’ll learn how aquatic animals see each other in a totally different light than we perceive!

From color, add patterns: stripes, spots, masks and brushstrokes of complementary or contrasting hues that break up the shape of the fish. Even bold colors and striking patterns can serve as camouflage in the right setting. The red-on-white plaid pattern of one reef fish lets it evade predators by hiding in plain sight against branching corals.

The glass catfish takes camouflage to the ultimate level. True to its name, it’s transparent! Clear is as beautiful as any color, especially when a school of these delicate fish ripple in the current.

Aquatic animals move in beautiful rhythms, too. Flower hat jellies have added fluorescence to the tips of their long, stinging tentacles, which bob like plankton in the current—fooling hungry fish into coming within striking distance.

Seeing nature up close sparks our compassion, curiosity and conservation for the aquatic animal world. In spotlighting living art shaped by the unmatched forces of nature and time, Underwater Beauty reminds us that all life—the weird, the unexpected, the unique—is worth saving.

Even small steps, such as choosing alternatives to single-use plastic products, can protect aquatic habitats so underwater beauty can thrive. Students can pledge with Shedd Aquarium to #SheddTheStraw and reduce their use of throwaway items like plastic straws, bottles and bags, which can harm wildlife when they litter waterways.

Underwater Beauty is free with aquarium admission. For more information about Underwater Beauty and #SheddTheStraw, visit Shedd Aquarium.

Content and photo courtesy of Shedd Aquarium.