Aquarium Partially Open For Business

By: 
Kirt Ramirez
The Lorikeet Forest is one of the outdoor exhibits open during the state health order.

Throngs of visitors normally pack the inside and outside of the Aquarium of the Pacific during this time of the year.

But this summer is different. With the state’s COVID-19 health orders in effect, various businesses and nonprofits remain closed until further notice. In the aquarium’s case, guests may not go inside the buildings; but they may enjoy the outdoor exhibits.

The aquarium’s website reports the outside attractions open “include the Harbor Terrace (featuring the Moon Jelly Touch Lab and archerfish and mudskipper exhibits), Shark Lagoon (including touch pools), Lorikeet Forest, the Our Water Future exhibit, Southern California Steelhead Story, Molina Animal Care Center, June Keyes Penguin Habitat, the Ray Touch Pool (open for touch), and the Seals and Sea Lions Habitat.”

The website adds, “The outdoor gift store and some food service will be open. Indoor areas will be temporarily closed.”

Aquarium tickets have been reduced to $12 per person.

After closing on March 14 due to the coronavirus health crisis, and after reopening on June 14, the Aquarium of the Pacific temporarily closed its indoor areas to the public starting July 3 and was slated to reopen July 24, in accordance with state guidelines.

However, during this time of COVID unpredictability, that didn’t happen. Thus, the inside of the popular marine museum will remain closed until further notice.

Meanwhile, to limit the numbers of visitors to the aquarium, guests must have a timed ticket or online reservation prior to visiting. Everyone over the age of two must wear a face covering. Temperatures for patrons and staff will be checked prior to entry. Anyone with a body temperature of 100.4 F and higher cannot enter. And those with symptoms of COVID-19 will be asked to visit another time, according to the aquarium.

Social distancing guidelines are in place and hand sanitizing stations are available. Additional public safety information is available at http://www.aquariumofpacific.org/visit/aquarium_safety

In the meantime, the aquarium opened a new coral reefs exhibit June 12, where people can learn about coral reefs and their animal residents. However, the exhibit is indoors and is currently off limits to the public.

The aquarium is home to more than 12,000 animals for the public to view and in some cases, touch, like sharks for example.

Additionally, the aquarium partners with Harbor Breeze Cruises for daily whale watch excursions.

“We’re sanitizing the vessels; everybody’s required to wear a mask,” said Harbor Breeze Cruises Vice President of Operations Nilda Langston.

Langston said the numbers of guests have been reduced and that pre-registration via online or by phone is recommended, although walk-ups for purchasing tickets are permitted.

“We encourage being pre-booked,” she said. “So they can minimize interaction.”

The blue whale season is getting underway.

“We haven’t seen blue whales yet, but we’ve seen a high activity of humpbacks and a tremendous activity of dolphins,” Langston said July 24. “They’ve been putting on tremendous shows.”

For more information on trips during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Harbor Breeze Cruises website is 2seewhales.com. The Rainbow Harbor ticket office is at dock two next to the aquarium, where state-of-the-art catamarans depart regularly with aquarium educators.

The Aquarium of the Pacific website is aquariumofpacific.org.

kirt@beachcomber.news

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