What choices Baltimore area parents have on this day after Christmas! Sleep late. Clean up the house. Buy more batteries for all those gift toys. Or take the kids to see Akai, Nalu, Nani, the bottlenose dolphins who are the star attractions of the new Marine Mammal Pavilion opening today at the National Aquarium.
Whether today or in the coming few weeks, thousands of Baltimoreans will mob the long-awaited aquarium addition. The new $35 million pavilion adds extra dimensions to the decade-old main complex. Airiness of architecture. A 1,300-seat amphitheater with frequent educational displays featuring dolphins and high-tech videos. Even a computer-assisted exhibit that allows a visitor to listen and imitate whale songs.
We welcome the three bottlenose dolphins, their younger kin -- Hailey and Shiloh -- and three beluga whales -- Kia, Anore and Sikku -- because of the beauty and mystery they represent. Even though science and technology have made spectacular progress in recent years, the vast world under the oceans is still largely a secret. That realm is one of our planet's great untapped resources but also a treasury that must be protected and cared for. The new mammal pavilion will surely promote interest in research and understanding of aquatic life.