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Voyage to the Bottom of the Commission

Posted By: Rich Capparela · 7/9/2013 1:53:00 PM

So this is how this...

 ...led to this

Back in April the Long Beach Symphony presented a World Premiere joint commission with the Aquarium of the Pacific.  The piece was Urban Ocean by Steven Mackey and it was a resounding success.  I happened to host that night’s pre-concert lecture and interviewed both the composer and the man who contacted Mackey in the first place – Dennis Poulsen.  It turns out Dennis is active at both the aquarium and the symphony so he was the perfect point man for the project.  One of his Wednesday activities is to volunteer at the aquarium – in the water – in full SCUBA gear.  It also turns out that both he and I share a passion for SCUBA and, long story short, I was his guest this past Monday morning in the aquarium’s Tropical Pacific tank – a tank holding a whopping 350,000 gallons of water.

I found myself in the company of zebra sharks, moray eels, rays and one huge grouper. What a blast.

While it’s always fun to hang with the fish, there was the bonus of being able to interact with the visitors on the other side of the window, especially the youngsters who were quick with a smile and a wave.  Its one thing to tell someone that a moray eel is very much like a cat: it likes to be scratched under its chin.  It’s something else altogether to be able to show someone that and still have ten fingers to show for it.  Thanks goes to Dennis, the aquarium’s president and CEO Dr. Jerry Schubel, and to the great staff.  And if you haven’t yet discovered the wonders of Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific, you are in for a treat.  Go.  Go now.  And bring kids.

-   Rich Capparela, NAUI Instructor 7629 (Retired)

 (That’s Dennis on the left and me on the right.)

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  1. Jeanie Mills posted on 07/10/2013 04:12 PM
    Very cool, Rich. Thanks for sharing this.
  2. Jaime H. posted on 07/11/2013 05:33 PM
    Rich,
    Thanks for posting the story and pics!
    I often enjoy your personal stories 'On the Air' too.
    (The one about the cup of coffee and Aaron Copland)
    Love the reference in story title to an old fave TV series!
    BTW, I swam in the big tank at Marineland once, and still
    have all my fingers intact still... Those fish are something
    to see, up close and personal, like your pics show!
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