California Aquariums


Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, Calif.

100 Aquarium Way
Long Beach, CA
(562) 590-3100

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By C. MacDonald

Want to see SHARKS swim inches from your head?
How about watching cute SEA OTTERS do backstrokes and dives before your very eyes?
Have you seen playful PENGUINS dip & dive lately?
Would you like to go underwater and FEED THE FISH?
Want to help SAVE THE SEA?

These are just a few possible thrills waiting for you at the spectacular Aquarium of the Pacific, anchor to The Pike at Rainbow Harbor in Long Beach. There are more than 500 species in 19 major habitats and 32 focus exhibits at the "way impressive" place which highlights three main areas of the Pacific Ocean--Southern California/Baja, Tropical Pacific and Northern Pacific.

Not only will you learn so much (like Sea Otters have the densest coats of any mammal to stay warm in the cold waters off the Central Coast), but there's something of awe for every age and every interest. You can stroll through and watch the amazement of sea life through huge windows or at shark and sea lion shows or, if you're a diver and have Open Water Certification, you can actually take part in "Dive Immersion," a program designed to allow you to journey into the 350,000-gallon Tropical Reef Habitat and check out some of the 1,000 fish. You'll even be given a camera to video underwater. Lucky divers are doing this daily between 3-5:30pm. Find out more at

Eric Castillo, Assistant Dive Safety Officer, said people can become volunteer divers (like he used to be) at the aquarium. "More than 170 volunteer divers help feed the animals, clean the tanks and study animal behavior," said the friendly Huntington Beach resident. "Together with our 50 paid divers, we've made more than 17,000 dives at the aquarium and in the ocean. We're one of the top diving aquariums in the United States."

Castillo teaches an American Academy of Underwater Sciences' "Scientific Diver Course," where you can become qualified and help with an "Abalone Recovery Project." Divers count and study the sea creatures to see if abalone can be re-established in the Pacific. There's also a Kelp Project, where divers move kelp-eating urchins away from the kelp to help re-establish this important plant that's needed by more than 800 species in the ocean.

Nancy Caruso, a Marine Biologist and founder of "Get Inspired," ( has been a driving force, working with the aquarium, school students and others to help Kelp return to Orange County beaches after an absence of more than 25 years. The students actually grow the kelp.

This caring and enthusiastic woman has assisted thousands of students and currently educates and inspires at seven schools in the growing of Kelp, Abalone and White Sea Bass. "Divers are replanting the student-grown kelp along the coast of Orange County and the team effort is restoring the Abalone and Sea Bass to our region," she said. "This shows them how to make a positive difference and literally help change the world. One of her former students, Marie Santiago, is even studying to be a Marine Biologist in college."

At the aquarium, you can also take part in an hour-long, guided "Behind the Scenes Tour," to see what "makes the place tick." You'll be able to go above the largest exhibit and feed the fish as well as see the new Molina Animal Care Center.

To find out about the incredible aquarium, visit its website,

The aquarium, located at 100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, also has supported, "Fish For Your Health," an invaluable guide telling which fish are high in mercury and what the healthy choices are. To find out about eating fish go to

The Aquarium of the Pacific - Fascinating, Fun and Helping Save the Future

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