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Save the Whales, or dive with them -Johnny Jackson

I do not plan to spend $290 for a swim with a 20-foot-long Whale Shark. The $30 I spend to watch them through that thick pane of glass each visit has been enough for me.

And as is typically the case, it doesn't take much to entertain younger children. I get why people swim with the dolphins - placid, intelligent animals that undoubtedly serve some therapeutic purpose in or out of captivity.

But I am not certain why anyone would be interested in paying to swim with captive Whale Sharks, beauty and calmness not withstanding.

I enjoyed my most recent visit to the Georgia Aquarium, which will host dives with the large sharks for interested patrons.

The visit, I have to say, is one worth saving for - and you will have to save for it, if you plan to experience it fully. I spent about $100 for two people in just a couple of hours there.

Viewing the facility through the eyes of a four-year-old, I think, would be a spectacular sight to behold - discovering the different kinds of fish and mammals I have never seen before and coming closer than I probably ever will to a 50-pound catfish.

I enjoy the Beluga Whales particularly, as it seems routine to hear on the news that one or another of the mammals has died.

Although I am not particularly fond of their tight-tank confinement.

The Beluga Whales seem to be the water-born version of pacing Tigers held captive in cages. All day, it seems they swim in circular, vertical patterns taking breaths every other trip. It is a sad-but-gorgeous sight to behold.

I am fascinated, too, by the jellyfish. I would enjoy them more, if that same fascination were not contagious. The jellyfish exhibit plagues the passers-by.

A bright-but-soothing glow radiates and reflects from each docile body drifting effortlessly up an invisible current. The sight is made more mesmerizing by the blue-tinted waters.

It is a nice place to visit, the aquarium. It is an underwater zoo that appeals to everyone who has never visited. And while, as always, there is room for improvement, I doubt adding "diving with Shark Whales" is an improvement that needs to be made.

And, then, I hope maybe the new interactive Whale Shark exhibit is a means to other ends.

I would like to see "my" Beluga Whales in a bigger tank, if they have to be there at all.

Johnny Jackson is the education reporter for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at jjackson@henryherald.com.