A recent lunchtime Vivarium tour group comprised just one visitor; Michael Gilligan from the Manchester Microscopical and Natural History Society [that's me!].
Although Andrew is an academic, he is also an expert guide, with an obvious passion for the Vivarium. The exhibit itself is superb, and I was particularly impressed by the RainForest display which now has its front section divided-off for a breeding colony of Strawberry Poison-Dart Fogs. These super little creatures, however, do serve to highlight a problem: It is very difficult for visitors to see, or photograph, the smaller specimens in detail. Whilst I was browsing the Vivarium, before the tour; several groups of young School-Children passed through … many were attracted by the tiny frogs, but some seemed to lose interest rather quickly, and I think this is because they could not see them in close-up.
To illustrate the problem for the young children; here are two pictures:
The first is a full frame, taken using a 45mm lens on a micro-four-thirds camera [the original is 4000x3000 pixels, but is here reduced to 800x600 for web viewing]: The second is an 800×600 crop from that image. … The first is a reasonable representation of what we DO see, and the second is what we WANT to see. Andrew and I discussed this briefly, and came to the conclusion that an installed “surveillance camera”, with Pan, Tilt, and Zoom controllable by the visitor, would be an excellent addition to the exhibit. Obviously there are practical difficulties, mostly relating to ruggedness and reliability; but I think it merits serious consideration. …
If any reader of this post has experience of suitable equipment I’m sure that Andrew would like to hear from you!
In closing … an open invitation from “Manchester Microscopical”. Our final meeting of the season is on Thursday evening, 17th April 2014 at 7p.m. in the Stopford Building on Oxford Road, and we would be very pleased to see anyone with an interest in Microscopy and/or Natural History ['though unfortunately we must insist that anyone under 16 is accompanied by a parent or guardian]. We are hoping to attract new members, and especially some younger members with fresh ideas, so please have a look at the website and feel free to come along: