Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific

Long Beach Travel Blog

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Long Beach Harbor on a beautiful day
I can't believe this place has been open as long as I've lived in Los Angeles and I've never gone before! What a shame considering it turned out to be a thoroughly enjoyable experience, even with company as challenging as me mum! ;) I had heard very different opinions of LB Aquarium, from "it's small and boring" to "it's fantastic." Perhaps it's because my expectations were low, but I had a BLAST here!!

My meeting with the non-profit and the venture capital guy kept getting rescheduled from Saturday to Sunday and then back again to Saturday. But it all turned out for the best as it rained for a spell yesterday right after the meeting, thundered even for a few moments, but in typical southern california fashion, Long Beach was GORGEOUS today! Thank goodness since there is quite a bit of this Aquarium that is located outdoors! We pulled into the harbor just before 10am as my mom was dead set against using the subway.
One of the tanks
Ah well.

Long Beach Harbor is really beautiful. Lots of activities going on, cruise excursions and of course the ferry that will take you to Catalina. The Aquarium is right on the Harbor next to.. yup! Bubba Gumps! I eyed the place hungrily as we walked into the Aquarium as I hadn't had breakfast yet.

Gosh this place is gorgeous! It's brand new, with obviously extremely well-tended displays full of happy fish and animals. The amazing thing is that a vast majority of the fish and animals here are found in Southern California or at farthest Baja Mexico. I'm always astounded by how gorgeous and lucky we are on the west coast. This place is going to be super hard to leave. Between the gorgeous weather and the abundant ecosystems/wildlife/conservation programs - let's face it - it's ALL HERE.
Apparently they're attracted to quarters!


So besides the beautiful assortment of colorful fish, playful sea otters, and of course sharks - they also provide a lot of touch-tanks. You can reach in and stroke stingrays of all sizes and colors, as well as little sharks, anemones, starfish, sea cucumbers and sea urchins. For even more close-encounters, there are behind-the-scenes tours that we didn't go on that are probably fantastic! Advanced reservations are required for those, though.

One of the many highlights was the tunnel where the sea lions play and seals play. These animals go right up to the concave glass and interact with people, like curious little creatures! Somehow some of the kids figured out that they are attracted to coins (I'm guessing it's the fish-like metal), so many of them were holding them up against the glass and the seals would swim around chasing the shiny objects, often swimming upside down!! All the wonderful energy from the kids really made this place fun and alive =) This is people watching at its finest =)

And one unexpected treat was the lorakeet jungle.
This bird liked my soaked sleeve
About 15 years ago when I first visited San Diego, I experienced a lorakeet area for the first time and was severely traumatized. They give you this cup of freaking sugar water and push you into a tightly enclosed space and you get ATTACKED by a rush of squawky birds that want a piece of you. your hair, your sugar water, your shoulder. It was HORRIBLE. But this time, we went in, without sugar water and just to walk around and look. This aquarium has the formula down right. The space is pretty extensive and there are about 20 to 30 birds in there, that's it! And they have their own place to hang out away from people if they don't want to feed and interact.

Man this was such a better experience than what I remember! We had just come from the shark petting area so my sleeve was a bit damp.
one of their most colorful tanks
I unknowingly offered this damp sleeve to a lorakeet that was perched on a fence. The curious bird started licking my sleeve and took a liking to it (probably some salt in the water). Before I knew it, his lorakeet friend came by to check out what the fuss was over my sleeve as obviously there was on nectar in my hand. And before I knew it, I was captive to two lorakeets on my arm, happily nibbling on my sweater sleeve. I usually hate birds but I had so much fun with these two! =)

We left to watch the sea lion show, which is outdoors in the gorgeous weather. It was short but very cute, as sea lions and seals are very good at doing tricks. Don't be fooled though, their ability to do these tricks is often a test of whether or not they're healthy enough to put their weigh on one fin and then the other fin - it's not purely for entertainment's sake! Then went by one of the very deep wall-displays just in time to see the divers answer questions from underwater =)  Our last stop was at the sea otter area and it was so cute to see them floating on their backs and eating clams =) It was also very educational, as we learned that sea otters are one of the few animals that don't give a warning before they attack.
Hatching baby shark!
and with their strong, sharp claws, the educator said "Repeat after me folks. They can tear your face off." No growl, no tail in the air, no narrowing of the eyes - they will just attack you if they want to.

A special treat was seeing 2 things I haven't seen before. One was a hatching baby shark that moved around quite a bit because my camera focus beam was bothering it! The other was a seadragon!! These creatures are particularly hard to breed and probably on their way to extinction but this aquarium had 3 of them!! I remember not too long ago there was an article in the news about a baby seadragon being hatched in the Atlanta Aquarium.

Expect lots of cute, little thoughtful items come with this experience. For example, if you pick up a booklet, there are embossing stations scattered throughout the aquarium where you can emboss a certain page of your guide.
sea dragon!!!!!!
Also, they have audio guides - that you can listen to FROM YOUR CELL PHONE! Basically they have signs up with a phone number. You dial this number and just enter the code displayed for that tank and you can listen to a recording. What a NEAT IDEA! It's just an incredibly thoughtful and intuitive space that is very well maintained. Kudos to the board, the management and the people that make this Aquarium first class all the way!
jenn79 says:
Hahaa!! =) I think after reading Mel's comment that I've eaten jellyfish too, it is pretty good. I still hate them alive though. They reproduce and reproduce and just sting people. So awful. I'd kill an animal to save a human life any day - there's a fine balance between simple design but I think complicated, highly evolved things are more beautiful. =)
Posted on: Nov 10, 2008
hirondellenhi says:
so, i thought it was just about eating jelly fish but the evolution of jelly fish too. I have to be the majority here! Look where intelligence got us. Killing the planet's species. Simplicity is beautiful! :)
Posted on: Nov 10, 2008
hirondellenhi says:
I love jelly fish!!! may be next week, I could make you a jelly fish noodles! they are so delicious. esp. fresh!!!

glad you like the aquarium. I like it when i'm with my students there and when it's warm!

did you see the giant sea bass feeading? man, it was amazing!
Posted on: Nov 10, 2008
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Long Beach Harbor on a beautiful d…
Long Beach Harbor on a beautiful …
One of the tanks
One of the tanks
Apparently theyre attracted to qu…
Apparently they're attracted to q…
This bird liked my soaked sleeve
This bird liked my soaked sleeve
one of their most colorful tanks
one of their most colorful tanks
Hatching baby shark!
Hatching baby shark!
sea dragon!!!!!!
sea dragon!!!!!!
Little stingray touch-tank
Little stingray touch-tank
Mom touching stingray!
Mom touching stingray!
Long Beach Habor this morning
Long Beach Habor this morning
Aquarium of the Pacific
Aquarium of the Pacific
Eel and Lobster!
Eel and Lobster!
Sea lion playing with kids!
Sea lion playing with kids!
Water fun area =)
Water fun area =)
These lorakeets were making out se…
These lorakeets were making out s…
Me and lorakeet who was biting my …
Me and lorakeet who was biting my…
Hmm.. is this is their resident ha…
Hmm.. is this is their resident h…
This diver was speaking to the cro…
This diver was speaking to the cr…
starfish touch-tank!
starfish touch-tank!
Another sea anemone touch-tank
Another sea anemone touch-tank
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photo by: X_Drive