Aquarium of the Pacific (Long Beach, CA)

Discussion in 'Diving & Ceph Encounters' started by PurpleTentacle, Nov 14, 2004.

  1. PurpleTentacle

    PurpleTentacle GPO Supporter

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    Very cool place. Not as enormous as the Monterrey aquarium, but it seemed to have a much broader array of species in the exhibits.

    As you walk in the entrance, there are a few "preview" tanks to your right with some cool looking coral reefs and a bunch of colorful fishes. There's also the open ocean exhibit, which just has a bunch of tanks with different jellies in them. If you want to see jellies, Monterrey is the place to be.

    As you walk down to the end of the first floor (assuming you don't stop in the gift store, theatre, or classroom), you come to the Blue Cavern exhibit. This is a two story wall of glass, behind which is a kelp forest modeled after Blue Cavern Point on Catalina Island. In this exhibit, they have a California halibut, a bunch of leopard sharks, some bat rays, a couple shovelnose guitar fish, some barracudas, some garibaldi, some other fishes, and most notably, two Giat Sea Bass.

    As you walk past the Blue Cavern exhibit, you enter a tunnel that is part of the two story Southern California/Baja exhibit. Here they have some white sea bass, some abalone and urchins, a bay pipefish (I think this was the one that hangs out in empty shells and scares off anything who threatens it by opening its mouth up real wide. I got to see this and it was sort of amazing. Its mouth opened up to a diameter that looked about 1.5 times the diamter of its body.), more jellies, and some pinnacles. As you leave this exhibit, you go through a tunnel where you get an underwater view of the sea lions and harbor seals. They have one big sea lion they call Old Man Miller, who doesn't seem to be interested in anything but food. The others will play. In fact, there's a ledge at the bottom of the glass, along which kids like to roll a rubber ball. the younger seals like to swim along the glass and chase the ball.

    As you exit the seal tunnel, you come outside to the Shark Lagoon. This exhibit is made up of 3 shallow pools, two of which are touch tanks where you can pet bamboo, epaulette and young zebra sharks. They also have a larger pool where they have a few sand tigers (man that's a mean looking fish), a bunch of nurse sharks, a big reticulate whiptail ray, a huge thorny ray, a real lazy whitetip reef shark, some fully grown zebra sharks that are about 10-12 feet long, and a sawfish. This was defintely my favorite exhibit. The zebras like to swim right up to the glass, and the sand tigers will get pretty close too. Everything else in this exhibit just sits on the bottom and wants to be left alone. You can get an underwater view from the glass on the side, or a top down view from behind the guard rail above.

    To the left of the shark lagoon they have a fenced in area they call the Lorikeet forest. I call it the noise box. They're pretty birds and all, but I didn't go in. I figure I get enough crap thrown my way at work, I don't need it falling on me from the sky.

    Upstairs from the shark lagoon (still outside) they had a touch tank full of rays and some seating to watch the sea lions and harbor seals ham it up. They also had a sea turtle exhibit.

    As you go back inside on the second level, there are three major exhibits with all kinds of stuff in them. The last part of the Southern California/Baja exhibit (which includes the seals/sea lions) doesn't have much. There's a tank with some garden eels that was pretty cool. They look like little periscopes sticking out of the sand. There was also a tank that was modeled after the sea of cortez, but aside from the balloonfish, it wasn't all that interesting.

    Moving right along, you come to the Northern Pacific exhibit. Here, they had a GPO, but it never came out of hiding. All you could see was its eyeball and one of its tentacles. They had a surge channel, but the thing that most impressed me about this was their ability to maintain it. The organisms in it weren't all that interesting. They had some diving birds (puffins I think), some red sea urchins, sea stars, giant spider crabs, and the ever popluar sea otters. Also, I'm pretty sure this was where they kept the cage with the poison dart frogs, though I thought these frogs were tropical animals.

    Lastly, we have the Tropical Pacific gallery, which had some very cool stuff in it, including seahorses, rockmover wrasses, flatfish, stonefish, frogfish, clownfish, leafy and weedy sea dragons, and all kinds of other stuff. They had a good size tropical reef set up with windows on three sides and a tunnel. There was a remora at one end with a big chunk ripped out of it, most likely the result of upsetting one of the mean looking Black Tip Reef sharks with whom it shared the tank. There were also some bonnethead sharks swimming around in there. A very cool exhibit.

    I saw everything in about two and a half hours. Then I had some lunch and walked through it all again several times. I spent most of the time watching the sand tigers. The only real disappointment I had was the lighting. I snapped some pictures, but hardly any of them came out. I didn't think they would because the glare off the glass was really bad, especially outside with the bright sun rays bouncing off everything. Inside, I think the lights could have been set up in a manner that would reduce the glare off the glass. It wasn't just a camera thing, you could see a lot of reflection when you were just staring into the tank. Also, a printable floorplan on the web site would be nice. But the aquarium is a nonprofit organization and they've done a great job, so I have no complaints. I defintely got my $20 worth.
     
  2. Nancy

    Nancy Titanites Staff Member Moderator

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    Thanks for writing up your visit - I feel like I've been there already!
    So only one ceph - the GPO? You'd think they'd have bimacs.

    Nancy
     
  3. Burstsovenergy24

    Burstsovenergy24 Larger Pacific Striped Octopus Supporter

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    Me too! 8)
     
  4. PurpleTentacle

    PurpleTentacle GPO Supporter

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    Whoops, I forgot to mention that they had a couple cuttlefish. It was a long weekend.
     
  5. cbarela

    cbarela Blue Ring Registered

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    Squid Eggs

    Last summer they had a clutch of squid eggs on exhibit that they found on a research dive. I spoke with one of the animal husbandry staff (if you ever have a "too-scientific-for-the-docent" question at the Aquarium they will page one of the biologists to come speak with you) and she said that they weren't sure what species or if they were even fertilized but they thought it would be fun to exhibit them and see if they hatched. I returned after a few weeks (yeah membership) and found out that they didn't hatch.
    They do a pretty good job there...most notable is their success with breeding weedy seadragons. (they have both weedy & leafy seadragons on exhibit).
    Of the California Aquariums this one is a second to Monterey but larger and more extensive than Scripps.
     
  6. PurpleTentacle

    PurpleTentacle GPO Supporter

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    Re: Aquarium of the Pacific (Long Beach, CA)

    I looked in the AOP animal database and I was way off on this one. The pipefish isn't all that exciting. It's sort of a straightened seahorse. The fish I was talking about here is called a sarcastic fringehead. Pretty ugly and can be very aggressive. Sorry about that. Man, this classification stuff is confusin' :?
     

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