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CALENDAR WEEKEND / Special Pullout Section

Bringing the Pacific Indoors

June 18, 1998

Something fishy is happening in Long Beach. The Aquarium of the Pacific is the newest attraction in theme park-friendly Southern California. Displays explore sea life in the three main habitats of the Pacific Ocean, stretching from the frigid waters of Russia and northern Japan to the tropical South Pacific. Nearly 157,000 square feet of space houses 10,000 fish representing more than 500 species. Among the highlights are a life-size replica of a blue whale with calf and a three-story glass predator tank filled with more than 400 fishes.

Highlights of the Regions

The Great Hall offers previews of the three habitats featured on the second floor:

A. Tropical Pacific: The Palau Islands featured here are home to a variety of brightly colored fishes and coral as well as piped-in tropical scents like coconut and pineapple.

B. Northern Pacific: A rocky zone with surging tide is the first look at the Bering Sea.

C. Southern California and Baja: The predator tank serves as a springboard for entering this habitat. Explore local waters to watch seals and sea lions play and sun themselves off Catalina Island then journey south to Baja and the Sea of Cortez.


Predator tank

Designed to show the top-of-the-food-chain fishes found in Southern California waters. Watch for moray eels as they poke their heads out from their rocky lairs.

Windows: 30 feet tall, made from three large pieces of 9-inch-thick acrylic, weighing 7 tons each

Gallons of water: 143,000

Highlight: More than 400 fishes including giant sea bass, sharks, barracuda and yellowtail; microphone-equipped scuba divers explain habitat and fish behaviors

Southern California and Baja exhibits not pictured in drawing (Located on the first level)

Amber Forest: Kelp beds

Nudibranch: Mollusk without a shell

Kelp Camouflage

Two-spot Octopus

California Spiny Lobster

Kelp Contrast

Shark Egg Cases: Eggs will hatch

Sharks in the Forest

Sea Nettles

Moon Jellies: Forty moon jellies drift in large tanks; adjacent videos explain habits.

Moon Jelly Polyps: Stinging jellyfish


Walk through a glass tunnel as seals and sea lions swim overhead off the rocky shoreline of Santa Catalina Island.

Seals & Sea Lions: All have been rescued and rehabiltated; one seal lion is blind. 7-20 feet long

Giant spined sea stars: Uses outstretched arms to clims rocks. 12-15 inches wide

Leopard shark: Unusual appearance makes it hard to find in kelp or on ocean floor. 5 feet long.

Seals & Sea Lions

Gallons of water: 206,000

Highlight: Underwater acrylic tunnel gives close-up views of four seals and four sea lions; exhibit leads to rocky shoreline where seals and sea lions sun themselves.

Kids' Cove: Ocean-themed playground


Up to second level

Discovery Lab: Touch sea urchins, anemones, sea stars and crabs found near Catalina Island; perils of pollution.

Rocky Intertidal: Urchins, sea stars

Sea Turtles: An endangered species

Skates & Rays: Touch different kinds of stingrays

/ Garden Eel

Sea of Cortez: Habitat overview

Northern Pacific

This section is home to some of the aquarium's most captivating creatures--sea otters. These three were injured and rescued from the Monterey area.

Rockfish (above): A venomous fish whose spine possess a mild toxin. 10-12 inches long.

Giant Japanese spider crab: Roams 6,000 feet deep in the coldest waters. 6 feet wide.

Surge Channels: How tide changes affect sea life

Diving Birds: Puffins and murres

Schooling Fish: Sardines

Giant Pacific Octopus

Gallons of water: 1,330

Highlight: The sight of those eight long arms will make you squirm but adjacent videos show its gentle ways.

Discovery Lab: Learn the safe way to hold a crab; other displays focus on effects of overharvesting.

Sea Otters

Gallons of water: 42,000

Highlights: Three sea otters fish and frolic in a rocky shoreline joined by lingcod and rockfish; exhibit focuses on conservation methods to protect otters.

Abalone & Urchins: What otters eat

Sea Star Diversity

Bays & Sounds: Diverse shorelines

Sculpin & Sea Cucumber: Bottom-feeders

Large Japanese Spider Crab

Gallons of water: 9,030

Highlights: The huge crustacean can measure 6 feet across.

Giant Pacific octopus: Sometimes depicted as monsters by Hollywood, these creatures are actually very shy.

Sea otters: An endangered species, the otter population once numbered in the millions.

Tropical Pacific

One of the world's premier scuba spots, the Palau archipelago, is featured. It offers a colorful variety of fishes and coral.

Coral Lagoon

Gallons of water: 11,800

Highlights: Above- and below-water viewing of various corals; look for the blue-spotted stingray, colorful Picasso fish and unusual puffer fish.

Upper Reef: First view of largest tank

Gallons of water: 350,000

Highlights: More than 1,000 fishes; divers equipped with microphones swim along and answer questions

Live Coral: Only real coral in the aquarium

Pretty Poison: Some alluring fish can kill

Deadly Disguise: How fish attract prey

Discovery Lab: Examine live coral; conservation focuses on coral reef preservation

Cleaning Stations: Fish grooming

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