Monday, August 27, 2007
Birch Aquarium at Scripps Celebrates 15 Years on Expedition Way
Celebration Weekend: Sept. 15-16, 2007
Scripps Institution of Oceanography / University of California, San Diego
From its infancy more than 100 years ago, world-renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego has dedicated itself to maintaining a public aquarium-museum that brings people and the ocean together. This September, Birch Aquarium at Scripps celebrates its first 15 years at its current location along Expedition Way in La Jolla.
Birch Aquarium at Scripps
Atop a picturesque bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean and world-renowned Scripps Oceanography campus, Birch Aquarium at Scripps has hosted nearly 5 million visitors from across the United States and around the world since opening on Sept. 16, 1992. Visitors have included U.S. presidents and other high-ranking government officials, royalty and Hollywood superstars. The aquarium remains one of San Diego's top cultural destinations, attracting more than 400,000 visitors in fiscal year 2007.
The $14 million facility was named in honor of the Delaware-based Stephen and Mary Birch Foundation, a nonprofit organization that granted $6 million for the aquarium's redesign. The new facility is three times larger than its predecessor and became a testament to the breadth of Scripps research explorations and the institution's commitment to sharing ocean and earth science discoveries with the public.
Today, visitors can explore more than 60 marine tanks-up from 36 on opening day-teeming with fishes, corals and invertebrates from the chilly waters of the Pacific Northwest to the warm currents of the tropical seas. A showcase 70,000-gallon tank houses a forest of gently swaying kelp, treating visitors to a startling view of a complex marine community that flourishes off the San Diego coast.
Black Tip Reef Shark
Outdoor tide pools with postcard views of the Pacific Ocean introduce visitors to diverse marine life that call the rocky shores home. The aquarium's 13,000-gallon shark reef exhibit brings guests up close with shark species that inhabit tropical reef habitats. In total, the aquarium cares for more than 5,000 animals representing 380 species.
Birch Aquarium at Scripps has committed to regularly opening new, timely and interactive exhibits in its oceanographic museum. Exhibits have explored exotic seahorses, sounds of the sea, earthquakes, marine genomes, water currents and sea creature survival techniques. This May, the aquarium unveiled "Feeling the Heat: The Climate Challenge," an exhibit that delves into the science of global warming and Scripps' half-century of groundbreaking climate research.
Birch Aquarium at Scripps is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), which ensures that rigorous standards are upheld onsite for animal care, education, wildlife and conservation in exhibits and programs. AZA has twice awarded Birch Aquarium at Scripps for excellence in conservation: in 1999 for breeding the Pacific seahorse, and in 2004 to recognize excellence in aquatic conservation exhibitry for "Secrets of the Seahorse."
Outreach continues to be a critical part of the aquarium's mission. Education programs have expanded to reach more than 70,000 local students each year, many in schools and after-school programs that cannot afford field trips. Birch Aquarium comes to them in its Planet Earth Express van, delivering tide-pool animals and marine science education. This fall, a new outreach van will add to Birch Aquarium's program, enhancing the potential to reach more students.
In addition, the aquarium's monthly Jeffrey B. Graham Perspectives on Ocean Science Lecture Series offers a glimpse into the cutting edge research of Scripps scientists around the world. Birch Aquarium's exciting field programs also take visitors on dozens of adventures. Participants have snorkeled with sharks and kayaked in La Jolla Shores, explored the Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier by moonlight and watched the mysterious silvery grunion spawn along San Diego beaches.
As Birch Aquarium at Scripps moves into the next 15 years, it will continue to help further visitors' understanding and appreciation of the oceans while communicating the critical research of Scripps Oceanography scientists. Plans are in the works for new interactive exhibits that delve into the ocean's treasures as well as onsite and field activities for the public that combine education and entertainment.
Since opening day, Birch Aquarium at Scripps has expertly balanced its dual roles as the public exploration center for Scripps Oceanography and a San Diego attraction. The aquarium's dedicated staff and volunteers take both of these tasks to heart, working hard to ensure the facility maintains the personal touch that keeps its visitors returning again and again, year after year.
Tide Pool Plaza
Visit Birch Aquarium at Scripps:
2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla, Calif.
9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily
$11 Adult, 18+
$9 Senior, 60+
$7.50 Youth, 3-17
Free Children, 2 and under
Free Scripps Oceanographic Society Members
From Interstate 5, exit at La Jolla Village Drive. West one mile. Left on Expedition Way.
Birch Aquarium's parking lot offers three-hour courtesy parking.
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Note to broadcast and cable producers: University of California, San Diego provides an on-campus satellite uplink facility for live or pre-recorded television interviews. Please phone or e-mail the media contact listed above to arrange an interview.
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, at University of California, San Diego, is one of the oldest, largest and most important centers for global science research and education in the world. The National Research Council has ranked Scripps first in faculty quality among oceanography programs nationwide Now in its second century of discovery, the scientific scope of the institution has grown to include biological, physical, chemical, geological, geophysical and atmospheric studies of the earth as a system. Hundreds of research programs covering a wide range of scientific areas are under way today in 65 countries. The institution has a staff of about 1,300, and annual expenditures of approximately $155 million from federal, state and private sources. Scripps operates one of the largest U.S. academic fleets with four oceanographic research ships and one research platform for worldwide exploration.
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