Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla has long been a staple of the community and much loved by both visiting groups of schoolchildren and adults on vacation in the area. It’s known for being a great family excursion for families who live in the area or visiting La Jolla. The aquarium is important to the community as its research helps find new ways to help the ocean and creatures of San Diego. Birch Aquarium believes that by promoting conservation through education and research, people will begin to understand why it’s important and be more apt to protect the sea and the environment as a whole. La Jolla Blue Book recently had the opportunity to speak with Kristin Evans, the Education Director at Birch Aquarium, and we learned what’s coming up for Birch Aquarium, how the Aquarium helps educate visitors on the shoreline of La Jolla, and why you should visit Birch Aquarium this year – whether it’s your first or tenth time.
Favorite Birch Aquarium Exhibits
There are some exhibits at Birch Aquarium that you can’t miss. Evans mentioned that one of their most popular exhibits is the Kelp Forest Tank, which is the aquarium’s impressive, iconic tank that is a floor to ceiling kelp forest and holds close to 70,000 gallons. The Kelp Forest Tank provides a representation of the ecosystem found off of the coastal waters of La Jolla and Point Loma. Kelp needs a particular environment to thrive in, which is found off of Southern California’s shores. Most people aren’t able to see it in the water, so the tank provides a way for visitors to see the soothing way the water flows and get glimpses of the fish that live amongst the kelp forest. This tie-in to San Diego and the shores of La Jolla also extends to Birch Aquarium’s Preuss Tide-Pool Plaza, which overlooks La Jolla Shores and gives visitors the opportunity to touch the animals that are living in the inner tidal area of La Jolla, including hermit crabs, lobsters, sea stars, and other creatures that will excite both children and adults.
Evans mentioned one of the other most popular attractions at Birch Aquarium is the seahorse exhibit, called There’s Something About Seahorses. Visitors find the seahorses and their kin, such as the seadragons, unusually beautiful and mesmerizing. The exhibit includes over a dozen species of seahorses and their kin, plus you may even get to see baby seahorses in the aquarium’s seahorse nursery.
Why You Should Visit Again
Evans also pointed out that while some exhibits may stay the same in terms of their name and layout, what’s inside those exhibits may be constantly changing, so return visitors will most likely see something new than they may have the year before. The aquarium is always updating the fish in the kelp tank and visitors may notice that some of the sharks are larger than last time they visited. The staff may also be different. Evans mentioned that one of the greatest assets of Birch Aquarium is its volunteers and staff. The volunteers may have rotated since last time you visited and there may be new experts on a topic that you can learn from. There are volunteers at every exhibit ready to share their knowledge with you.
Coming Up Next For Birch Aquarium
La Jolla Blue Book was also curious about what’s next for Birch Aquarium and Evans shared with us details about the upcoming ElasmoBeach exhibit. (The exhibit gets its name from elasmobranchs, which is the scientific term for sharks and rays.) The shark tank at Birch Aquarium, which used to only have sharks found in the waters around La Jolla, will now be expanded to include tropical fish and stingrays. The exhibit will provide a learning opportunity for visitors to learn more about sharks and their relatives and why they’re so important to the ocean’s ecosystem. The ElasmoBeach exhibit will open this summer on July 4. In addition, new experiential activities will be introduced for visitors to partake in.
With Birch Aquarium’s ongoing mission of providing ocean science research, interpreting Scripps research, and promoting ocean conservation, Birch Aquarium is sure to continue enthralling visitors and making a difference in the environment and for sea life. If you’re interested in visiting Birch Aquarium this summer, here’s some important visitor information:
Birch Aquarium Address: 2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla, California 92037
Open Hours: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily
Admission: $17 for adults, $14 for teens (ages 13-17), $12.50 for children (ages 3-12), $13 for seniors (ages 60+), children ages 2 and under are free
Parking: Free for up to 3 hours