Activities & Resources
Cabrillo Marine Aquarium553in San Pedro, CA 90731
about Cabrillo Marine Aquarium:
You won't find huge and awesome tanks here - no gigantic whales, or dolphin shows, or the like - but this is a perfect spot for smaller kids to explore the fragile ecosystems of tidepools, mudflats, and the deep wide ocean.
In fact, the real beauty of Cabrillo is the way it gets everyone, kids and adults alike, involved. Entering the inside portion of the facility, you'll find areas dedicated to the Rocky Shores, Mud Flats, Kelp Forests, and the Open Ocean. Touch Tanks abound.
Be sure to stop by the Aquatic Nursery and see what's growing in this open husbandry lab. Students and staff are often seen working on a variety of projects here. You might be shown baby jellies or other larval animals on the microscope monitor.
Shapes, colors, and behavior of the fish in the Fish Diversity Tank reflect where and how these fish live. Sharks, too (remember the sharks? there are a few here), come in an amazing variety of sizes, shapes, and habitats.
Whales and dolphins, while not physically present, are here in spirit and in the special exhibits on feeding, a video of various cetaceans, displays of whale and dolphin skeletons, and recordings of whale sounds.
In the outdoor museum, the Cabrillo Coastal Park Trail provides accessibility for all visitors who wish to explore the rocky shores of the Point Fermin Marine Life Refuge and the sandy shore of the inner beach. A concrete path across the beach and boardwalk along the cliffs and rugged beach wheelchairs are available to enhance your visit to the tidepools.
A salt marsh, sandy beaches, and fossil rich cliffs are all within walking distance of the Aquarium.
A sidewalk trail also extends across the inner beach, allowing access for all to the waters of Cabrillo Beach. Before swimming, be sure to check with the lifeguard for any updates on water quality.
Sea Ranger volunteers are available at selected times to interpret the mudflat habitat at "Salinas de San Pedro" just across the parking lot. To extend your exhibit hall visit, pick up a "Walk Cabrillo" guide at the information booth.
SEA Club - Science Education Afternoons: Students can join the CMA Education staff for a series of hands-on afternoon marine science adventures. Observe animal behavior, examine rocky shore animals in a hike along the tidepools, explore the wonders of mud at the salt marsh, get up-close with microscopes, and even take part in a fish dissection. Each section runs for four consecutive Monday meetings, from 3:30 to 5:30 pm, at a cost of $30 per session. SEA Club T-shirt included.
Classes, family outings, and events are as abundant as the marine life here. Staff lead free tidepool walks a few times a month in both English and Spanish; and when the grunion are in season families are invited to join in late-night adventures down to the shore, watching the silvery fish "run" up the beach.
Check the Cabrillo website for information on summer camps and school vacation camps offered by the Aquarium, as well as volunteer opportunities for older kids.
The Aquarium holds periodic Native Garden Workday and Beach Cleanups, during which families are invited to help the environment by cleaning the beach, learning about local plant and animal life as they do.
Another resource here is the Aquarium's reference library, with its abundant non-circulating collection of books, periodicals, and audiovisual materials in marine biology and related sciences. Inter-library loans are available.
Membership: $40 Family membership includes a subscription to Tidelines, the quarterly newsletter, 10% discount in the Aquarium Gift & Book Shop, limited free parking in the Cabrillo Beach parking lot, discounts on aquarium classes and programs, advance notice of aquarium activities and new exhibits, and invitations to special Friends events and preview openings.