2016-02-22 - California Academy of Sciences
After breakfast, I cycled down to the Summit Bicycles Store in Burlingame which opened at 11am. I dropped off my bike to be shipped to the east coast and then rejoined my brother. We had lunch together at K.Grill & Tofu House where I had a cold bibimbap before taking an Uber to the California Academy of Sciences. We got there around 2:30 PM and had about 2.5 hours before they closed. We first attended the Coral Reef Dive talk where a scientist and diver educated us about the Philippine Coral Reef. Here's a good question. What are corals? Are they plants, animals, fungi, something else, or a mix of multiple groups?
The next event we attended was the popular penguin feeding, These are South African penguins breed in captivity. The lighting and temperature of the exhibit is adjusted to mimic the seasons of their native habitats in and near South Africa. Due to overfishing, their preferred fish are underpopulated in the wild so two fish of similar nutritional profile are fed to them instead. Each penguin has different temperaments and preferences. Also, due to the safety and care of being in captivity, they can survive into the 30's, much older than in the wild. It was funny to watch the older more dominant penguins bully a younger male away from them. Penguins like many of us need their own personal space.
The last event we attended was a swamp talk focusing on the alligator snapping turtle and the rare albino alligator named Claude. Albino animals lack pigment so their entire body inside and out appear white to us. Their eyes lack color too and so appear red from the blood vessels behind. In the wild, they would be easy prey to spot and find it impossible to ambush prey which makes this alligator very rare indeed. Alligators can survive up to a year without food due to not having to heat themselves up or move much. The exhibit has a heated rock Claude likes to lay on. Sometimes he would lay there for hours and cause visitors to mistake him for a sculpture. Accompanying Claude are 5 alligator snapping turtles. some of the heaviest freshwater turtles in the world. These turtles have a little worm-like thing that sticks out of their mouth to attract fish. When the fish tries to eat the "worm," they get eaten instead. That's nature for you.
We loved the aquarium and other water exhibits on the lower floor. One of the fish we found there was about as big as my brother. My brother's favorite were the garden eels he finds cute. There was also a rainforest exhibit that had a path for visitors to walk around all the way from the first to the top floor. Overall, we had a great time.
On this last night in San Francisco, we chose to walk the two hours to the BART train, absorbing as much of the city as we can. I listened to episodes of the Startup podcast while I walked and we stopped at the Mela Tandoori Kitchen for dinner. Out of the three Indian restaurants I had been to in the area, this was by far the best. We splurged on strawberry lassi, aloo paratha, aloo gobi, and vegetable biryani. We only finished half of the biryani which we saved for the next day. They had hot lemon water to wash our hands with and professional business cards. I really liked the place.
It was cold and we were tired so we did not hang out in the city for much longer. I returned to my hotel and my brother to his place. The day after, I packed everything and left for the airport around noon. A 6 hour flight and short drive later, I was back home after a great trip with two of my favorite people in the world.