- The Washington Times - Friday, April 18, 2008

Hokey, maybe — but lots of fun, too. The leg-tickling, water-spraying 15-minute 4-D movie “Planet Earth: Shallow Seas” is the latest offering from the National Aquarium in Baltimore to further visitors’ understanding of all things aqua-related.

It’s a movie not just for the eyes and ears, but one that touches other senses as well. Presented in 3-D, it also has wind, bubbles, vibrations and lightning. Think National Geographic meets Disney World.

“We completely immerse you into the experience,” says Charles Myers, director of visitor services for the aquarium.

“Shallow Seas” tells the story of sea life along the continental shelf in the Pacific and Indian oceans, including depictions of a giant starfish (the seat will shake as it scrambles to reach its prey), a flashing clam (lights go off) and a group of 30 sea snakes (this is where the leg-ticklers come in).

But there also is a narrative. We follow a mother humpback whale and her calf on their journey halfway around the globe, from the Equator to Antarctica.

We learn they will make this perilous journey 70 times throughout their lives. The question is, will there be enough food in these increasingly depleted waters to sustain them? The answer? You’ll have to discover that for yourself.

The Disneyish approach that is 4-D is a way to add more fun into an otherwise very educational and often serious mix, Mr. Myers says.

“We wanted to have something completely new to the area and have a little fun, too,” he says, adding that the show presents an opportunity to deliver the aquarium’s ubiquitous conservation message.

The message is part of the pre-show experience. The movie screen features texts on what people can do to help fish populations. In a clam shell: Eat less fish from the Atlantic Ocean and go for pollock and halibut from the Pacific Ocean instead. Also, ask grocers and restaurant personnel where their catch is from to ensure and encourage sustainable fishing practices.

WHAT: “Shallow Seas”

WHERE: The National Aquarium in Baltimore, 501 Pratt St.

WHEN: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Friday, when hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. The aquarium will be open until 6 p.m. on Saturdays in April.

TICKETS: $21.95 for adults, $20.95 for seniors age 60 and older, $12.95 for children ages 3 to 11, children 2 and younger are admitted free. Package tickets that include the dolphin show and movie in addition to aquarium admission are $28.95 for adults, $27.95 for seniors and $17.95 for children ages 3 to 11.

PHONE: 410/576-3700 or www.aqua.org

PARKING: Several pay parking garages are nearby.

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