The Deep-Sea Explorer

Four four-minute programs rotate (and we do mean rotate) on a spinning sphere.
Four four-minute programs rotate (and we do mean rotate) on a spinning sphere. (Bill O'leary - The Washington Post)
  Enlarge Photo     Buy Photo
Friday, September 26, 2008

Okay, you've seen all that stuff. Now here are a few more suggestions for those who want to plunge into even deeper waters.

Living on an Ocean Planet. Here's where you do your homework after you've taken in all that the Ocean Hall has to offer. Touch-screen computers let you test your skills on such interactive challenges as managing a virtual fishery. Trust me, the game is harder than it looks.

Journey Through Time. If you like the giant shark jaw and the ancient whale skeletons, you may want to linger a bit longer with the Ocean Hall's extensive fossil collection. It boasts specimens both beautiful and strange, including a never-before-exhibited example of a placoderm, the Devonian fish that was among the first vertebrates with jaws. Its fierce face and armor-plated skin make it look like something forged by a medieval weapons-maker.

Salmon Shape a Way of Life. Just beyond Phoenix the whale, look for the 25-foot carved red canoe overhead. A gift of the Native American Tlingit (pronounced "CLING-ket") nation, it symbolizes the importance of fishing in the culture of this Northwest Pacific Coast people. Nearby display cases about sustainable Native salmon harvesting offer a powerful subtext about how all of us depend on the ocean and vice versa.

Video Fix: "Science on a Sphere." You've heard of a rotating film schedule? Well, the four four-minute videos screening in the Ocean Systems gallery do that -- quite literally. Projected onto a globe-shaped screen, the short but dense programs (titled "It Changes," "It's Connected," "It Interacts" and "It Produces") create a kind of high-tech, video-in-the-round experience where visitors on all sides of the spherical screen can watch what appears to be a spinning, changing Earth. If "Deep Ocean Explorer" is meant to inspire, "Science on a Sphere" teaches.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company