Aquarium of the Pacific
Finding Nemo may be a tough task at the Aquarium of the Pacific, the fourth largest aquarium in the nation and the largest in Southern California. With more than 11,000 creatures in more than 50 exhibits, the Pacific Ocean is a well-represented focus.
More than 1.5 million people visit the Aquarium of the Pacific annually. The Aquarium boasts three main indoor galleries, which highlight the major regions of the Pacific. Outdoor exhibits include the Shark Lagoon, the open air Lorikeet Forest aviary where birds may actually land on guests and the Our Watersheds: Pathway to the Pacific exhibit, which allows patrons to learn about local watersheds and how to protect them. It also teaches about sustainable water use for today and tomorrow. Visitors of all ages can participate in hands-on activities, such as feeding a bat ray, and scientist lectures.
The special exhibits gallery features changing exhibits, and visitors can learn more about veterinary care at the Molina Animal Care Center. Meet the colony of more than a dozen Magellanic Penguins in the June Keyes Penguin Habitat, and engage with current science in the Ocean Science Center featuring NOAA’s Science on a Sphere. As a special treat, the penguins now are available for adoption. Donations help feed and care for the Magellanic species.
Plunging ahead into the fall season, there are an array of events visitors can enjoy, such as free Friday Shark Lagoon Nights, Dolphin Confidential: Confessions of a Field Biologist and Aqua Tots: Colors of the Ocean. Give back on Sept. 15 and participate in California Coastal Clean-Up Day with the Aquarium. Those looking to swim into a job as a veterinarian can shadow the Aquarium’s veterinarian on Oct. 6.
The Aquarium of the Pacific not only has exhibits and activities for patrons, it also focuses on rehabilitation and conservation. In fact, in the spring the Aquarium rehabilitated and released a green sea turtle back into the wild equipped with a tracking device. So far this success story has traveled more than 500 miles, and he is the third turtle to be rehabilitated by the Aquarium. All seven sea turtle species are listed as endangered species.
Visitors who take guided tours of the Aquarium can watch animal feedings, have special animal encounters and even can take part in seasonal boat excursions.