umentary can duplicate influences how people who view reef aquariums think about coral reefs. This awareness, in turn, increases the desire to see reef resources preserved and protected.

I see some interesting parallels between reef aquarists, divers, and other nature enthusiasts of today with their counterparts of a hundred years ago. Nature study was a popular pastime among our Victorian ancestors. The microscope was their primary tool for investigating the natural world. The structure of an organism, in that it was considered to reflect the precise, clockworklike design of a Divine Plan, was their primary interest. Today, the aquarium has become a tool that permits even an urban apartment dweller to investigate nature. A reef tank is as affordable for many Americans as a good microscope was for Victorian ladies and gentlemen. We, however, are less interested in how organisms are constructed than in their relationships with each other.

When we create these miniature worlds encased in glass or acrylic, we are not seeking to affirm the presence of a greater power (although such affirmation is a commonplace reaction of spiritually inclined aquarists). Rather, by observing the day-to-day existence and interactions of creatures that are like us in so many ways, and yet so startlingly different, we are attempting to comprehend our place in a universe that is proving to be more chaotic, complex, and awe-inspiring than anything the Victorians could ever have imagined.

Victorians Aquarium
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