Aquarium of the Pacific
The esteemed Aquarium of the Pacific, in the Downtown Waterfront, has approximately 100 exhibits, and houses over 12,000 ocean animals. These impressive statistics make it the largest facility of its kind in Southern California, and millions of tourists visit the aquarium each year to marvel at the exhibits showcasing the nearby Pacific Ocean. The aquarium has something for adults and children alike, including the family favorite June Keyes Penguin Habitat, home to 20 Magellanic penguins. Other popular exhibits include the Lorikeet Forest, Shark Lagoon, and the Moon Jelly Touch Lab. And the Ocean Science Center at the aquarium also uses a unique NOAA Science on a Sphere® to give an engaging presentation of ocean impacts across the globe.
Visitors can sign up for special animal encounters, including interactions with sea otters, octopuses, penguins, and seals. Other special happenings include professionally led science discussions and behind-the-scenes tours. The Aquarium of the Pacific’s mission is to instill a sense of wonder, respect, and stewardship for the Pacific Ocean, its inhabitants, and ecosystems. Our vision is to create an aquarium dedicated to conserving and building Natural Capital (Nature and Nature’s services) by building Social Capital (the interactions between and among peoples). The Aquarium of the Pacific has redefined the modern aquarium. It is a community gathering place where diverse cultures and the arts are celebrated and a place where important topics facing our planet and our ocean are explored by scientists, policymakers, and stakeholders in the search for sustainable solutions. It has taken a bold new approach in the future of aquariums with the opening of its Pacific Visions wing. The Aquarium of the Pacific is Southern California’s largest Aquarium. It displays about 12,000 animals and more than 100 exhibits that celebrate the planet’s largest and most diverse body of water, the Pacific Ocean. Its galleries represent the frigid waters of the Northern Pacific, the temperate Southern California/Baja region, and the warm coral reefs and lagoons of the Tropical Pacific.
Each year approximately 1.7 million people visit the Aquarium, making it consistently one of the leading attractions in the Los Angeles region. Beyond its world-class animal exhibits, the Aquarium offers educational programs for people of all ages from hands-on activities to lectures by leading scientists. Through these programs and a variety of multimedia experiences, the Aquarium provides opportunities to delve deeper into ocean science and learn more about our planet. In 2019 the Aquarium opened its first major expansion since its founding, the new Pacific Visions wing. Pacific Visions is a 29,000-square-foot, two-story, sustainable structure. This new building houses a state-of-the-art immersive theater, an art gallery, and a culmination gallery with interactives, game tables, and live animal exhibits. Through Pacific Visions, visitors can explore the most pressing environmental issues of our time and alternative pathways to designing a more sustainable future. Throughout the year, the Aquarium features art exhibits, performing arts shows, and cultural and community festivals as a way to engage new audiences and make science accessible. Its Guest Speaker Series and Aquatic Academy courses offer opportunities to learn about ocean and environmental issues from the scientists and other experts studying them.
The Aquarium of the Pacific was the first among museums, zoos, and aquariums in the nation to register its greenhouse gases and has won numerous awards for its sustainable practices. The Premier Watershed Classroom was the first building in Long Beach to earn LEED Platinum certification. The new Pacific Visions wing earned Two Green Globes certification from the Green Globes® building rating system for demonstrating leadership in best practices regarding environmental efficiency. In addition to its public programs and exhibits, the Aquarium is involved in numerous conservation efforts, including breeding and rehabilitating endangered species, sustainable seafood, watershed education, climate resilience, community science, and more. Our team of scientific divers collects critical data used by a variety of ocean research institutes and reporting agencies. And through our Aquatic Forums, the Aquarium brings together scientists, educators, community leaders, and policymakers to develop solutions to complex environmental issues.