The Aquarium of the Pacific: Los Angeles
We kicked off this year’s Shark Week with Fin Fest at Manhattan Beach and continued the party with a visit to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Los Angeles. Take advantage of their discounted late night hours to see the entire space for half the price.
Late night hours are from 5-8:30 p.m. which ended up being the perfect amount of time. We didn’t stop at a few of the touch tanks, and since it was at night there weren’t any demonstrations or movies during that time, but we were able to move at the pace we wanted and still make it around to all the exhibits.
The aquarium houses many species that are endangered or threatened including the freshwater sawfish, giant sea bass, sea otters and sea turtles, with plenty of opportunities to learn about them. The labels were all concise and interesting and there were several volunteers throughout who offered information when they noticed us contemplating whatever was in front of us at the time.
Tip: Be sure to pick up a visitor guide when you first walk in. This booklet is full of additional information and will help you identify the different species of fish in each section, especially when it is too crowded to see the plaques on the floor. Plus, there are fun embossing stations for kids (or adults) to check off different parts of the aquarium as they walk through.
Aside from the sleepy sea lions, all the tanks were incredibly lively. The puffins, otters and penguins were all diving and interacting with each other, and the octopus put on a big show spreading his tentacles up the glass and dancing around as we watched.
Did you know: Californians can make a contribution to the California Sea Otter Fund on their state tax form.
Especially with endangered species, I always wonder where the fish and animals in captivity come from. Many stations in the aquarium had explanations for where the sea creatures were captured or whether they were bred in captivity. It’s so interesting to read about the conservation and rescue efforts that go on behind the scenes at zoos and aquariums. At Aquarium of the Pacific, you can even observe the animal care center through a glass wall where they perform regular examinations and sometimes surgery.
One of the most interesting things I learned was how much medicine is derived from sea life. Blood from wild-caught Horseshoe crabs is used to prepare and test vaccines. Research has found that many corals and sponges can be used in cancer treatment drugs, which is another reason to protect threatened coral reefs.
Overall the experience was educational, exciting and interactive. I pet a baby hammerhead shark (did you know there are 10 species of hammerhead?) and I still really cannot get over the fact that a sawfish exists. Or that they can get up to 14 feet long. Can you imagine seeing one in the wild?
- Sea dragons
- Comb Jelly
- Lion fish
- Chambered nautilus