The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is a small, local aquarium in the South Bay. This beautiful facility, tucked away between the harbor and the beach in San Pedro, was designed by the famous Los Angeles architect Frank Gehry. Although not the largest aquarium, the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium takes pride in having, “the largest collection of Southern California marine life in the world.” Tanks are designed to replicate oceanic habitats in Southern California. The aquarium also features a diverse collection of native sea life, interactive exhibits and a myriad of activities, which makes it a fun educational and engaging location to visit.
The main aquarium has an amazing display on Jellyfish and how they reproduce. There are large tanks featuring sharks, lobsters, octopus and other aquatic animals. It also includes an imitation tide pool where visitors can touch anemone, urchins, starfish and other marine life. Docents give different presentations and are available to answer any questions.
There is also an Aquatic Nursery, where Jellyfish and other native sea creatures are raised and cared for. It is amazing to visit multiple times and watch the babies develop or eggs hatch. Students interested in Marine Biology can intern there and learn about marine life through research and valuable hands on experience. They are very knowledgeable and always available to share what they have learned with visitors.
Children especially love the Exploration Center part of the aquarium. Kids can dress up in marine themed costumes to perform on a television that is set up. They can also play with sea animal puppets, games or read books about the ocean. My son’s favorite exhibit is a huge tank with a tunnel under it. He can crawl underneath the tank then pop up so it looks like he is inside and swimming with the fish. I have seen many kids flashing funny fishy faces from inside the tank. I enjoy looking through different microscopes they setup daily and speaking with the staff about the latest local sea life they have encountered.
The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium also hosts a myriad of activities including a Whale Festival, Grunion Runs and Earth Day Celebrations. They are very family friendly, enjoyable, and educational. The aquarium has many events that are meant to educate visitors about local ocean habitats and the need to protect our environment. They have beach cleanup on the first Saturday of every month and offer other volunteer opportunities. They also walk groups to the adjacent tide pools to explore marine life in its natural habitat. I have been lucky enough to view a group of baby octopi in a small pool of water during low tide.
Planning Your Visit
The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is a nonprofit so donations are strongly recommended but not required. Street parking is limited but there is plenty of parking in the lot close to the building for a small fee. In addition, they have a really great gift shop. Proceeds are used to care for the animals and fund aquarium programs. The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is a great way to spend your day in the South Bay!
Cabrillo Marine Aquarium – (310) 548-7562
3720 Stephen M White Dr, San Pedro, CA 90731
Have you visited the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium? Share below what you enjoyed most.