LIVE: MSUM Oceanarium for World Ocean Day

You and the ocean are a lot closer than you think.

MOORHEAD — In a landlocked state, the experience of having an Atlantic stingray demand playtime and petting might not be all that familiar to most people.

Nor is getting a friendly squeeze from a horseshoe crab.

But now, with the expansion of MSUM’s Oceanarium, you can get that and much more, right in the middle of the metro.

The interactive areas include touch and tide pools, a moon jelly tank, echinoderms like starfish and sea urchins, horseshoe crabs whose blood is commonly used in making vaccines and other critical human medicines, and possibly most engaging of all, the stingrays.

Coordinator Phil Larson, who helped bring the project to life from a single tidepool exhibit years ago, says the stingrays  (related to sharks) are as intelligent as a housecat, with similar personalities.

They recognize handlers, beg for food, initiate contact, and even play with toys, including swimming through hoops and picking them up on their noses.

The 8-year project in the making is a way to bring people closer to the animals who live in coastal areas of the country, and it’s not just a delightful way to introduce them to the creatures’ different habits, environments, and yes, personalities.

It’s also a way to remind people that the planet is predominantly ocean, and the health of the ocean is critical to the survival of most of the life on planet earth.

The Morning Show visited with some of the folks and faculty who made the Oceanarium a reality about their mission to educate, inform and delight, and what they’re hoping to do to expand the project and people’s awareness of the planet’s ocean.

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