Yesterday was a perfect day in sunny, beautiful Long Beach to go swimming with the fishes at the Aquarium of the Pacific. Well, I didn’t go swimming personally, but I could have. Swimming in the shark tank is just one of the new attractions offered by the aquarium to celebrate its tenth anniversary all year long. It's kind of like Disney’s "Year of a Million Dreams," except it really will only last for one year.
Though the festivities officially begin today, I was lucky enough to preview the events a day early. And I have to say that the highlight of the preview is the aquarium’s new Animal Encounters tour—where normal, average people like you can go behind the scenes and get down and dirty with the animals. In a G-rated way, of course. For two hours you get to play animal trainer as you learn how to feed, play with, and care for some of the Aquarium’s residents.
The coolest encounter by far is the shark encounter, where you get to throw on a wet suit and jump in a tank with the sharks (and a trained handler). Scary but fun. For those of us who have seen Jaws enough times to know better, the otter and sea lion encounters are just as hands on without the added potential for becoming fish food.
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As well as getting you up close and personal, the Aquarium is taking this year to educate patrons about the ten top challenges to the health of the Pacific and its inhabitants in the Ocean on the Edge gallery and lecture series. Focusing on ten diverse issues including climate change, biodiversity loss and overfishing, the Oceans on the Edge gallery will also have demonstrations throughout the year by visiting doctors and professors to lecture on the issues.
Along with the new Tenth Anniversary Tribute film projected around the giant whale in the main hall, the Aquarium is offering guests lots of new promotions to celebrate like prizes, including an overnight stay in the aquarium, $10 admission to anyone born on the tenth of the month, and summer Sunday $10 admission until 10 p.m.
Though it’s no Disneyland, the Aquarium of the Pacific offers a different kind of fun environment for the summer, and I can guarantee that the people at Disney would never let you climb into a tank with a real live Mickey Mouse. I think most people would agree that sharks are way cooler anyway.
View more photos from the aquarium here.