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The biodiversity exhibit near the Ocean Hall's main entrance shows what kinds of creatures are considered marine life.
The biodiversity exhibit near the Ocean Hall's main entrance shows what kinds of creatures are considered marine life. (Bill O'leary - The Washington Post)
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Friday, September 26, 2008

Got a little more time? Add these attractions, which go a little below the surface.

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Biodiversity Cases. Pitcairn's pretty video images are only an appetizer. The Ocean Hall features 674 specimens representing all known phyla. To learn more about the wide variety of marine life, stop by the display cases just inside the Ocean Hall's main entrance. They contain examples of creatures finned and feathered, vertebrate and invertebrate, great and small, from a massive model of a lion's mane jellyfish to an enlarged representation of a microscopic dinoflagellate (more commonly known as algae).

Ocean in the News. You've seen Phoenix the whale. Now head over to the Ocean in the News section. There you'll find the latest updates on the real Phoenix's whereabouts at one of several interactive news kiosks, as well as discover other ocean-centric stories, scientific advancements and cool video clips. Be sure to check out the digital news ticker, a collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that displays bulletins on such real-time ocean events as hurricanes.

Ancient Whales. Did you notice those skeletons hanging near Phoenix? They're the fossilized remains of some of her ancient cousins, including the sea-serpent-like Basilosaurus. Its name means "king lizard," and it could grow to more than 55 feet long.

Drawers. Scattered throughout the hall you'll see drawers about knee height that invite you to open them. Pull one out. Inside are even more examples of marine life, grouped by such features as fin shape.

Video Fix: "Deep Ocean Explorers." Hitch a ride on the submersible vessel Alvin as it descends from the sunlit zone near the ocean's surface, through the twilight zone (yes, that's its real name) all the way down to the bottom of the deep ocean. Screening continuously in the Deep Ocean Theater, this 13-minute video joy ride offers a short tour of a watery world of beauty and mystery.


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