Aquarium of the Pacific has opened its doors for visitors to experience the holidays with some new and old friends under the sea.
The Aquarium of the Pacific unveiled the newest resident in Shark Lagoon just in time for the holidays. A new sandbar shark can be seen cruising around the lagoon this holiday season.
“The sand bar shark has been with us in holding for a couple of months, and we just recently released her in our shark lagoon exhibit about a month ago,” said Rachel Munson, aquarist with the Aquarium of the Pacific. “We wanted to make sure that she was doing really well before announcing her, and she is doing so well in here; she is eating a lot and behaving well, and we are so happy to see her doing well in here.”
Sandbar sharks are one of the world’s largest coastal sharks; their name stems from their preference for sandy bottoms of the ocean. These sharks generally don’t have distinctive markings or color patterns. Still, the newest aquarium resident has a beautiful bronze color that helps her stand out from the others swimming around in the tank.
She doesn’t have a name quite yet, but she plays an important role in the survival of her species.
“She came from another association of zoos and aquariums,” said Munson. “…It is really exciting, especially since sandbars are a vulnerable species out in the ocean, and so by having breeding programs in zoos and aquariums it really helps with populations not only within zoos and aquariums but also there is potential for releasing at a later time.”
The aquarium ramped up the holiday spirit with decorations spread throughout the exhibits and buildings to bring in a little holiday cheer. Peppermint sticks and salt water-friendly Christmas trees were placed in exhibits throughout the aquarium, and lights were strewn throughout the halls, all in the spirit of the holidays.
Santa really ends up in the strangest of places while delivering gifts. A Santa diver at the Aquarium of the Pacific can be seen throughout December diving to the bottom of the Blue Cavern exhibit the Aquarium of the Pacific’s Great Hall of the Pacific.
“Our holiday events last through Dec. 23,” said James Stewart, exhibition supervisor at the Aquarium of the Pacific. “The weekends will have most of our events going on and things to do, but you can come and see our decorations and our aquarium holidays materials throughout the month. Every weekend we will have the option for people to have their picture taken with our Santa diver; we will have animal treats going in at different times of the weekends.”
Aside from photo-op visits with Santa, guests will be able to experience Holiday Treats for the Animals Festival.
Keepers will be doling out holiday-themed treats to their marine-based charges at special times on weekends throughout the month.
Part of the joy of the aquarium is seeing the animals, and in some cases, you can even interact with them up close.
One of the charitable events the aquarium runs year-round is an adopt-an-animal program that allows guests to give back to our aquatic friends.
Donated funds help to fund educational programs, conservation initiatives, animal rehabilitation work, and animal breeding efforts.
You can adopt a penguin, like Gatz, a four-year-old Magellanic penguin who calls the aquarium home, or donations could go towards efforts to save sea birds like this juvenile, yellow-craned night heron nicknamed Batman, who was rescued earlier this year.
The Aquarium is following COVID-19 protocols to keep staff and animals safe; visitors will need to make reservations in advance and wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth.