Ballard locks, salmon ladder, and aquarium

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Tortillas for breakfast, thanks to Carol for providing these tasty meals.

Prabhu took Philip and me to the city to see the Ballard locks. On the way, I saw some trolleybuses. They looked a bit like trams.

The Seattle trolleybus system forms part of the public transportation network in the city of Seattle, Washington. Originally opened on April 28, 1940, the system currently comprises 15 routes, with 159 trolleybuses operating on 68 miles (109 km) of two-way overhead wires that carry riders on over 20 million trips per year, comprising about 20 percent of Metro’s total daily ridership. The current operator of the system is King County Metro, commonly known as Metro. (Wikipedia)dtrambus3

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Ballard locks are something unique to Seattle. They are also known as Hiram M. Chittenden Locks and are found in the Lake Washington Ship Canal.  We could not observe these locks funtioning today, but I could see that these locks  enable small boats and larger vessels to travel from freshwater Lake Washington, which is at a higher level to Puget Sound, at a lower level and vice versa.

Imagine three compartments one after the other, with gates dividing them. Also imagine that the water level of the middle compartment can be lowered and raised at will. When boats from the Lakes side wants to go to the sea, they enter the middle compartment, which has water at the same level as the lake. Then the gates are locked. Then water in this compartment is drained, so that the level is the same as the sea. The gates at the other end of the compartment are opened, so the boats can sail away into the sea. The same thing happens in reverse when boats from the sea want to enter Lake Washington.

Looking at the locked gate from inside the middle compartment. The level of water on the other side of the gates is at sea level.

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Looking towards the sea from the gates

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Two sets of ballard locks were built so that all boat traffic does not need to stop during maintenance. The other lock was suitable for large vessels, as you can see in this photograph. The staff circled in blue gives you the relative size of this ballard lock.

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Salmon hatch in rives and travel to the sea where they spend most of their life. At the end of their life, they travel back to the rivers to spawn. This migration from fresh water to salt water and back again is an amazing phenomenon and clearly shows the greatness of nature’s designs, which is another way of affirming that God has made all things well. I remember studying about this in university under the topic Osmoregulation.

When the ballard locks were put in place, a salmon ladder was also built so that salmon and other fish may be able to go about their mission unhindered by the opening and shutting of the gates. This ladder comprises many weirs or steps, each a little higher than the previous one. The salmon jump from one weir to the next one. Large glass windows were built for visitors to observe salmon jump the last of the weirs.

By November most of the salmon have moved upstream. So, when we went to the salmon ladder, we did not expect to see any fish. We were delighted to see a couple of stragglers make it through the salmon ladder.

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We spent several pleasant hours at the Seattle Aquarium. The photos speak for themselves.

At the entrance:

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Inside the Jelly-fish ring

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This wise-looking fish was missing an eye on one side

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Here you have two vertical glass cylinders with a horizontal cylinder that connects the two like a bridge. Each vertical cylinder has an octopus. Once in a year during Valentines day, the two octopuses are allowed to meet and mate. This is a big event at the aquarium.

We came to know this because one of the volunteers at the aquarium explained these things to us we discussed the feeding of the octopus. Apparently one of the octopuses was not eating and this could be an indication that it was nearing the end of its life. Octopuses live for a few years, growing considerably in that time. Towards the end of their life, they reproduce.

The octopuses in the aquarium are kept for a time and then released into the water. In the aquarium itself, they are kept in conditions that mirror their natural environment in most aspects.

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Philip found this fish intriguing, with its human-like face

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Colouful coral and fish

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001Entrance (44)

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Jelly fish

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Male Banggai Cardinal fish incubate their eggs in their mouths for a month, till they hatch.

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This Painted Greenling, as soon as it sensed my presence, seemed to freeze against the bottom.

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Striped Shrimpfish: These were playful creatures. We observed three of them playing a game and doing some kind of dance. A volunteer told us that they had also been observing this behaviour and felt that it was a romantic dance. But they were a threesome. Some kind of love triangle?

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Alligator Pipe fish

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Leaf Scorpion fish

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From the underwater dome, we could see other kinds of fish, including one that was humungous.We saw Sea Otters and Northern Fur Seals enjoying themselves. SP found that at the centre of the dome, our voices sounded very different and deep. We might have experimented with a song had it not been so crowded.

We had the underwater view of these creatures as well as the view from outside.

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All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

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For a very late lunch, you might even call it an early dinner, we had  dim sum (pork dumplings)  and congee. My friend Woody would have appreciated it very much, and it was the perfect weather for it too, cold and wet.

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Later that evening, we had a light supper as we watched a DVD about Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones. If you want to know more about this excellent resource, go to http://logiconfire.org/about-logic-on-fire/

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