A visit to the Lithuanian Sea Museum

  • 2006-09-13
  • By Paul Morton
KLAIPEDA - Klaipeda and the Curonian Spit are definately summer places, and the Lithuanian Sea Museum, perched at the very end of the UNESCO site, is generally a summer site too. It will still maintain partial hours on the weekends, starting in October, but you may want to head over there now. Summer isn't officially over for at least another week and a visit to the museum may be a good way to say goodbye.

Housed on the grounds of an old fortress, originally built in the late 19th century and then heavily destroyed during World War II, the place has a pretty campy feel. The dome like buildings that house the aquarium and dolphinarium (is that even a word?) are ugly examples of '70s architecture surrounded by restored fortress walls.

But it's all good fun. There's a small pool for the penguins and for the Steller's Sea Lion. There's a small pool for the Baltic Grey seals too and there's nothing more enjoyable than seeing a feeding demonstration here. A fellow who works at the aquarium makes the poor kid work for his food. There's a series of claps which the baby seal has to imitate, bit by bit. A call-and-response drum beat. The baby seal does a relatively good job, but eventually it gets to be just a little too hard. The seal gets his fish anyway and a kiss on the lips.

Inside the aquarium, there's a green moray, which looks like a dull minor monster from an old "Star Trek" episode. There's also a clown triggerfish, a blue, black, yellow and white creature that is just as beautiful as it is absolutely ridiculous. The second floor has a collection of sea fauna, which is enjoyable enough, but of course the real show is in the other building, the dolphinarium.
The dolphinarium (again, is that really a word?), is really a theater for a dolphin show. In keeping with the general mood of cheese, the event begins with a dance of two people, one in a furry dolphin costume and one in a furry seal costume. After this ends, as quickly as possible, we get the show. At one point a man in a wetsuit rides two dolphins at the same time who swim side by side. At another they get a dolphin to play basketball. A man or woman in a wetsuit tosses a ball at a dolphin's nose and it bumps it into a basket.

A man holds a sheet with a musical note in front of a dolphin in the hope that the old boy will be able to imitate it. That's not the only part of the humanities these dolphins have mastered. A dolphin is also seen painting a white board.
It's all very educational. I came away from the experience with the understanding that seals were cute, dolphins were created by god to be slaves for human beings' enjoyment, and that sea fauna is really pretty. I'm sure you'll learn the exact same things as well.

Lithuanian Sea Museum
More info: www.juru.muziejus.lt