Foto Friday: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

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).

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Welcome to the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro (CA)! Which way do you want to go?

Welcome to the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro (CA)! Which way do you want to go?

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.

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The seahorses were part of a rotating exhibit that showcases a “fish of the moment” from local waters to Southern California, just one way that the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium focuses its educational efforts on local marine life.

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The boys use their muscles to see how mussels use theirs.

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The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium welcomes wave-makers of all-ages!

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The kids took a break from sea tales on a whale tail – a total fluke I caught this moment, RMT’ers. Aw, come on, get it? Whale tail… fluke?! Tee hee.

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).

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I love this shot of T taking a peek through one of many microscopes at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.

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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!

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Be sure to check the doors to the Tide Pool Touch Tank for visitation hours as this is only open for limited hours daily.

Follow the blue line through the Susanne Lawrenz-Miller Exhibit Hall to the Tidepool Touch Tank at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.

Follow the blue line through the Susanne Lawrenz-Miller Exhibit Hall to the Tide Pool Touch Tank at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.

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Awesome local (sea) stars on display in the tide pools at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.

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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.

Beautiful sea star tanks greet all at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro.

Beautiful sea star tanks greet guests at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro.

Local artifacts like this fossil are on display to visitors at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.

Local artifacts like this fossil are on display to visitors at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.

The kids of Coastal Cuties (our playgroup) pose through one of the tanks at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.

The kids of Coastal Cuties (our play group) pose through one of the tanks at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.

The kids all got a kick out of looking at the thank you notes and artwork from other school kids from previous field trips and group visits. The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium prides itself on public educational outreach and has since the late-1940s when they hosted their first school visitors.

The kids all got a kick out of looking at the thank you notes and artwork from other school kids from previous field trips and group visits. The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium prides itself on public educational outreach and has since the late 1940s when they hosted their first school visitors.

T's been obsessed with moon jellies since the 15th Anniversary Party at the Aquarium of the Pacific. This is the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium's version of a moon jelly exhibit.

T’s been obsessed with moon jellies since the 15th Anniversary Party at the Aquarium of the Pacific. This is the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium’s version of a moon jelly exhibit.

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Head hole!

T as a goldfish!

The kids really loved posing in the head holes. What kid doesn't love a head hole though?!

The kids really loved posing in the head holes. What kid doesn’t love a head hole though?!

The library at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium houses many books for all-ages (and languages) focused around marine science and biology. Visitors can also come here to pick up a free poster!

The library at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium houses many books for all-ages (and languages) focused around marine science and biology. Visitors can also come here to pick up a free poster!

The kids of Coastal Cuties pose for a photo at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium with Cabrillo Beach and Coastal Park in the background.

The kids of Coastal Cuties posed for a photo toward the end of our visit – with free posters in hand! – at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium with Cabrillo Beach and Coastal Park in the background.

I don’t have much more to say about our visit that can’t be shown in photos, so please enjoy the pictures.

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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).

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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!

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