At the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Fish Tank at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Yesterday, Martine and I visited the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro. Situated as it is within hailing distance of the Port of Los Angeles, the Aquarium is as much a scientific oceanographic institution as it is an aquarium purely for show. The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach is only a few miles east and is primarily an aquarium for show.

We spent several hours looking at the various tanks and asking questions of the highly educated staff. What impressed me the most was feeding largish sea snails with algae. They seemed to suck in the algae as if they were smoking a joint.

One of the highlights was watching a video produced by the institution about how they went about collecting specimens for research and display.

One of the Features of the Southern California Coastline Are the Vast Kelp Forests

We had visited the Cabrillo some twenty years earlier and were surprised to see how much the institution has grown over the years. I was impressed by the fact that admission was by voluntary donation, and that the beach parking was reasonably priced ($1.00 per hour). Expect a visit to take somewhere between two and three hours.


Smile, You’re on Candid Camera!

The “Face” on the Underside of a Manta Ray

The “Face” on the Underside of a Ray

There are so many strange forms of life under the sea, and the rays are one of the strangest. At the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, I ran my fingers across the velvety back of one of them. Then, in one of the large mixed tanks, I saw what looked like a smile on the underside of another one (illustrated above). In the tanks, they tended to glide over the sandy bottom, making me wonder whether they are scavengers.

In all, the Aquarium has only a few hundred different species of sea and shore life, but few of them are anywhere near familiar to me. There are odd staring moray eels, fish that look like floating vegetation, birds with tongues shaped like short straws, and giant daddy-longleg-like spidery crabs. While Martine were there in the morning—before the strollers and their glazed-eyed pushers arrived in force—we had a good chance to see the exhibits are marvel at their strangeness.

If I had another life to live, I would consider being a marine biologist. One of the most underrated American travel books I have ever read is John Steinbeck’s expedition with a marine biologist friend from Monterey to Mexico. It is called The Log from the Sea of Cortez.



Shot Down in the Lorikeet Forest

Was This the Guilty Party?

Was This the Guilty Party?

Today, Martine and I decided to visit the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. As usual, we were there at opening time, because we knew from long experience that, after lunch, the place would be crowded with strollers bearing demonic toddlers and pushed by brainless zombie parents. (And, sure enough, it was.)

The weather man had predicted rain for today. We typically ignore forecasts of rain, because the news channels are awash in dire predictions of a deluge even when the chance is less than 1%. This time, we were wrong. By early afternoon, it started to shower and, five hours later, it is still going strong.

No matter, we managed to get several hours of fun in before the stroller derby began in earnest. The highlight, as always, was our visit to the Lorikeet Forest, where one is allowed to walk among and even feed some four score of the colorful southeast Asian parrotlike avians. Two of them perched on me while I fed them from the cup of nectar I was holding. Other visitors marveled that they seemed drawn to me.

But not all of them. After the two left, one flew close to my left ear and sprayed the side of my face with his rectal effluvia. This had happened to me once before, at the Santa Barbara Zoo. But that particular bandit discolored one of my favorite baseball caps.

Isn’t that just an object ,lesson? Of what, I am not sure.