Happy first Friday of August 2013, RMT’ers? Wow, where’s the summer going?! Going by fast, eh? Well, fret not as for us here in the Long Beach (CA) school district at least we still have a little more than one month left to get out there and enjoy all that the season has to offer. Today I’ll tell you about a new-to-us FREE destination just next door to Long Beach in San Pedro, the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium (CMA).
Founded in 1935 as the Cabrillo Marine Museum at the Cabrillo Beach Bath House with just a handful of local marine specimens, the CMA’s mission today is pretty close to their original vision: To provide “an educational, recreational, and research facility dedicated to providing rich and varied opportunities for early and continuing education of the general public about the marine environment of Southern California.” You can read more about the Aquarium’s history here.
What really stood out for me during our visit to the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium was its unwavering support of science, education, and research at every turn, all while engaging and entertaining the public with hands-on exhibits for all-ages. Also, the exhibits are authentic, not flashy and finished like those of the Aquarium of the Pacific. Actually, my visit here brought me back to my childhood visits during the 1980s to the aquarium tanks that were housed at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography at UCSD in the old wooden buildings (their public outreach center is now known as the Birch Aquarium and is housed at another site).
While walking through the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, I also got the feeling that discoveries and important observations were happening all around us by some big marine biologist in the sky. In fact, one wing of the facility is very much set up as a research exploration center. Here visitors can take a look at the research for themselves, both by identifying animals using the microscopes and investigating published and on-line information on different marine topics. Another area is an aquatic nursery, complete with a working laboratory where visitors have access to active scientific research and to the scientists-in-training who are conducting projects under the guidance of CMA’s professional staff. Very cool!
Another wonderful wing of this aquarium is their tide pool touch tank. This is a popular attraction and has limited capacity and access hours (check the interior doors for times, which change daily). Of course, the kids LOVED putting their hands into the water to touch and pick up various sea stars, urchins, and other local reef creatures.
I don’t have much more to say about our visit that can’t be shown in photos, so please enjoy the pictures.
Plan your own visit to the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium! Hours are Tuesday-through-Friday 12 Noon-to- 5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m.-to-5 p.m.; closed Mondays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. While admission is free, donations are always welcome; there’s also a fee for parking (by the hour) as the lot services the entirety of the Cabrillo Beach and Coastal Park (cash only). For more visitor information, including parking and group trips, please go here. If you are interested in piggybacking your visit to the CMA with a visit to a natural tide pool, you can walk to a small tidal area nearby. And if you just can’t get enough of the beach and tide pools, then check out my post on the White Point Tide Pools, which are just a short drive north of the aquarium (still in San Pedro).
Thank you again to everyone who voted for “Real Mom Time” in the 2013 Circle of Moms Top 25 So Cal Mom Blogger contest! I am here to say that I ended the contest with an official ranking of… #17 (two-way tie)!! WOW! And that’s all thanks to you, RMT’ers, whether you voted just one time, voted daily, and/or shared the contest links with others. I’ll update you again when I hear anything more from the Circle of Moms folks about what this ranking means for me… and for you, too! Congratulations to all the wonderful women and their beautifully composed work that ranked in the Top 25 of this contest, but especially to my friend Maruska, the owner of Plan A Day Out who WON the contest. Way to go, M!