Photos provided by the Jenkinsons Aquarium
It’s amazing the sights and attractions you don’t go to when they’re in your own backyard. Case in point, I live in NJ, love the ocean, dig wildlife and yet have never stepped foot in the Jenkinson’s Aquarium since it opened in 1991. I finally did so back in February and was super-bummed I hadn’t gone before. It was a great little place and one that every local surfer and fisherman should check out at least once.
I’ll admit that the only reason I went was because the kids were driving me nuts one particular afternoon and it was in all our best interests to get the heck out of the house. I figured the fresh air would do us good and maybe the kids would get a kick out of the sting ray petting tank and ever-popular penguin feeding. But the joke was on me. The whole place rocks and is a must-see for any local surfer/fisherman that wants to see some crazy fish. There are exotic animals like alligators, penguins, moray eels, sea horses and a few hilarious parrots, but the real attraction to me was the local fish. The chance to see the seals, puffer fish (apparently on steroids in this exhibit!), bass and sharks that we share the line-up with was a cool lesson in the bigger picture of our passions and beloved state.
And not sure if you caught that last one, but I did say sharks. I stood in front of that tank for a long, long time with very mixed emotions. The Sandbar and Sandtiger sharks were as intimidating as anything I’d seen in a long time and the toothy smiles made me think twice about what was swimming below my board all those years in the line-up. The Sandtiger’s habitat, by the way, is described as ranging in depths from 6 to 600 feet deep and includes the surf zone. While they’re described as non-threatening to humans since they feed on small fish, crabs, lobster and squid, try telling yourself that when one swims by you in the tank. The ‘men in the grey suits’ look menacing no matter how benign they’re supposed to be. For me, these sharks were worth the price of admission.
As an added bonus, the aquarium’s mission is to educate the public on all aspects of marine life, their habitats and conservation and their affiliations with Frogwatch USA, Reclam the Bay, Polar Bears International, Marine Mammal Stranding Center, Conserve Wildlife, Flying Wild, SeaNet, SANCCOB make their environmental imprint substantial. If you support them for those reasons alone, you’ll be doing a good thing and your karma factor will rise substantially resulting in several perfect waves rolling in with your name on ‘em.
So, on the next flat or stormy day, take a few minutes and check out the Aquarium. And try not to think about those Sandtigers next time you’re waiting for the next set to approach.
Aquarium Info: 300 Ocean Avenue, Point Pleasant Beach, NJ 08742 (732) 899-1659 | www.jenkinsons.com