La Jolla

Birch Aquarium

White plumose anemone
White plumose anemone

I like watching live sea creatures. I don’t like it nearly as much as I enjoy eating some varieties of recently deceased fish and crustaceans, but I do enjoy observing the live ones, nonetheless. If you haven’t figured it out yet, and even if you have, this is my way of introducing a post about a visit to an aquarium, the Birch Aquarium, to be specific.

Aquariums are great because you can view sea life without having to get wet. I also like the idea of not having to enter the sea life’s environment, where predatory fish have an advantage. I can’t shake the feeling that sharks are not our friends. Not even close.

Sea nettles
Sea nettles

The Birch Aquarium, in La Jolla, California, is a part of the famed Scripps Institution of Oceanography, which is, in turn, a department of the University of California, San Diego. It is far from the largest aquarium in the world, but it is a good one.

Compared to most for-profit aquariums, the admission price was quite reasonable. Plus, unlike what is the case in most places in my hometown of Toronto, where seniors are generally considered to be people 65 and older, seniors’ rates at the Birch Aquarium start at age 60. I qualify. It depresses that I’m now eligible for seniors’ rates in some places, but it doesn’t depress me enough to refuse the discount.

Various fish, including California lookdown (it's the one with a square head)
Various fish, including California lookdown (it’s the one with a square head)

There are a variety tanks at the Birch Aquarium, housing sea life from a wide range of locales.

The Aquarium also mounts special exhibits that change at an interval that is unknown to me. When I visited, there was an exhibit on seahorses, which, not surprisingly, features a lot of seahorses.

Another special exhibit explored the effects of global warming on coral reefs. (Spoiler: The effects are not positive.)

Western Pacific Reef fish
Western Pacific Reef fish

The Birch Aquarium has a shark tank located in an outdoor plaza (but within the admission-paid area of the aquarium). If you’re of my generation and you’re expecting to see sharks of the size made famous by the 1975 movie Jaws, you’re going to be disappointed. If you’re much younger than I am you probably clueless about Jaws, but never mind. The sharks at the Aquarium are smaller tropical reef sharks. (Note: The Birch Aquarium web site says the Shark Reef exhibit will close May 29, 2014 to make way for another exhibit. So it might not be there if you visit after that.)

Western Pacific Reef fish
Western Pacific Reef fish

Also outside is a tide-pool exhibit where you can touch some of the inhabitants. When I was there the staff were directing people’s attention two creatures there. I foolishly didn’t write down the names of either of the species and I have since forgotten what they were. One had the softest “fur” you will ever touch. The other had spines that, if you approached them closely with your open hand, then placed a finger between some of the spines, you got a gentle hug.

The tide-pool exhibit has another not-to-be-missed feature: a view of the Pacific Ocean that is exquisite.

I apologize for the brevity of this post. If I were qualified to do so, or if I took more notes while I was there, I could spend considerable time talking about the sea life in each of the tanks at the aquarium.

I’m not qualified, nor did I take adequate notes. Sorry about that. Instead, enjoy the pictures of just a few of the exhibits.

Seahorses
Seahorses

 

View of the Pacific
View of the Pacific
Another view of the Pacific
Another view of the Pacific

 

4 comments

  1. Seahorses are such odd-looking creatures, aren’t they? You didn’t mention Sea Monkeys…did you see any of those there? When I was a kid, Sea Monkeys were sold in all the souvenir shops for you to “grow” at home. I’m not sure what they actually are; maybe some type of shrimp? Anyway, I digress. Nice job giving us all the colorful highlights of this aquarium.

    1. Yeah, seahorses are odd looking, but the Weedy seadragon was even weirder looking in my opinion.

      I always thought that Sea Monkeys were an artificial novelty invented by a marketer. Turns out I was part right. I looked it up after seeing your comment. Sea-Monkeys is, indeed, a brand name, but it is a brand name attached to living creatures. They are brine shrimp sold in hatching kits as novelty aquarium pets. If there were any Sea-Monkeys at the Birch Aquarium, I didn’t see them.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the highlights of the aquarium.

Been there? Done that? Do tell.