From Australia: Sharks!!

by Melissa Brunner

Sharks get a bad rap. That's what we've been reminded of several times during tours in Sydney. Sharks, they say, actually are responsible for very few deaths and most aren't really the aggressive creatures we might believe they are from the movies.

The Sydney Aquarium adds new perspective on the plight of sharks. With their reputation, the researchers say, sharks have become unnecessarily hunted and their population depleted. The Sydney Aquarium brings you face to face wih their tracking technology and shares their conservation and breeding efforts. Of course, seeing them is the really cool part! Among the more than 12,000 aquatic animals on display is Shark HQ, an aquarium that has sharks swimming all around you.

One of the other cool displays is the Dugongs. They're mammels commonly referred to as sea cows. Pig and Wuru are two of only six dugongs on display anywhere in the world - both were oprhaned as calves. It was so fun to see their smiling faces as they rolled and glided along the glass, giving a flick of the flipper, as though waving hello!

The aquarium was located along Darling Harbor, which is home to a Chinese Garden at the opposite end from the aquarium. It was a nice, quiet walk to explore the waterfalls, pools and plants - and even a few lizards who freely roamed, stopping to sun themselves along the way.

On a side note, our trip to the aquarium came after an incredible morning run! I got up early and headed out, not knowing exactly how far it was to any particular spot. The path went through Hyde Park, to the Domain and Botanical Gardens, along the harbor (we looked for Russell Crowe at what we were told was his property across the bay and didn't see him!), past the Opera House and eventually across the Harbor Bridge. What an awesome experience!! The route ended up being nearly 7 miles, but you didn't even notice, thanks to the wonderfully distracting scenery! Whenever I travel, I always take my running shoes!

You can find photos of the fun - including my sea turtle high five! - at www.facebook.com/wibwmelissabrunner. Enjoy!

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