The new $11.3-million Stephen Birch Aquarium-Museum at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla hosted about 8,000 visitors when it opened last weekend, an expression of public interest "beyond our wildest dreams," said spokeswoman Cindy Clark. The 3,700-square-foot exhibit, which explores all aspects of oceanography and also showcases Scripps' research, features 34 tanks--including a 70,000-gallon kelp forest filled with fish found in the waters near La Jolla--a demonstration tide pool and an interactive museum. The aquarium-museum serves as interpretive center for research under way at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. While it is only about one-fifth the size of the acclaimed Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is dedicated to the marine life near Monterey, the Scripps' aquarium-museum tanks display sea life extending from the Pacific Northwest down the coast to Mexico's Sea of Cortez. And a special exhibit, which will change annually, examines marine life collected from the South Pacific. The new facility is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., every day of the year. Cost is $6.50 for adults, $5.50 for seniors, $4.50 for active military and children 13-17, $3.50 for children 4-12; children under 4 are free. For information: (619) 534-3474.
Travel Quiz: What percentage of all known plant and animal species are found in the South American Amazon region?
Drug Test Results for Airline Personnel: The airline industry reported positive drug tests for a little less than 1% of salaried workers and job applicants tested during 1991, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA said U.S. airlines, including regional and commuter carriers, reported 2,673 positive findings out of a total of some 279,881 tests, approximately half of which were for pre-employment job applicants. Most of the positives were reported for security screeners, flight attendants and maintenance workers, all considered to be safety-related positions. Industrywide, 40 pilots--13 for major carriers and 27 for regional airlines--tested positive. Marijuana use accounted for 48% of the total positive results, followed by cocaine use at 47%. FAA rules require that airline personnel with jobs related to safety who test positive for drugs be removed from their positions until they are drug-free. Further, those employees are subject to unannounced drug testing and may in fact be fired, depending upon individual airline policy.
Sold on San Francisco: Low air fares, an abundance of convention business and an American love affair with domestic travel this summer have combined for a sellout of San Francisco hotel rooms twice in August, and tourism officials are predicting that the fall could be just as strong. They are recommending that San Francisco-bound travelers book hotels as far in advance as possible and, should they encounter room-availability problems, call the city's Visitor Information Center (415-391-2000). The center can offer advice on how to find lodging, even when many hotels are booked.
Carrying Cash Into Vietnam: Vietnam is now allowing travelers to bring foreign currency worth up to $3,000 into the country without declaring it, the official Vietnam News Agency reports. The State Bank of Vietnam ruled that both Vietnamese and foreigners may import and export that sum without listing it on a customs form or obtaining special permission, said the report. Previously, travelers were required to declare all money in their possession upon arrival, and officially were supposed to account for of all their spending upon departure. But enforcement of the rules had been lax in recent years, as the Communist government in Hanoi seeks to liberalize the economy in order to attract foreign tourists and businessmen.
Quick Fact: One out of every six Americans is afraid to fly, according to a Boeing Aircraft Corp. survey. Crashing was cited as the chief apprehension by 67% of anxious flyers, but other concerns listed were fear of giving control to the pilot, fear of being in an enclosed area and fear of having a panic attack.
Norway Lobbying for Monstrous Appeal: Business people in southern Norway are hoping to draw attention away from Scotland's Loch Ness monster and onto a 200-year-old serpent allegedly sighted living in Seljordsvannet Lake in south-central Norway, a few hours west of Oslo. Entrepreneurs from the small town of Seljord, Norway, recently visited Inverness, the Scottish town next to Loch Ness, and have developed plans for a hotel, boat safaris and other attractions in Seljord, designed to lure monster fans to Seljordsvannet next summer. The 478-foot-deep lake is said to be the home of Selma, a dark-gray serpent first reported seen in the mid-18th Century. Selma sightings have continued over the years, and last summer four or five people said they spotted her at the same time, according to Olaf Slaaen, the secretary of the Seljord Trade Assn. "Our Selma is worth just as much attention" as Scotland's Nessie, Slaaen said.