Pacific Visions and Recent Acquisitions at Aquarium of the Pacific
Just when I think I’m running out things to do and places to see something new pops up. That’s one of the pleasures of Southern California – there’s always new and exciting things happening. Take Aquarium of the Pacific. The renowned institution has graced the shore of Long Beach for 20 years and just keeps getting better. Not only has it acquired new, fascinating sea creatures but it’s now on the verge of opening it’s biggest expansion since it’s founding – Pacific Visions.
Opening in spring 2019, Pacific Visions is a 29,000 square foot addition to the existing aquarium structure. Set to house an art gallery, special rotating exhibits and a state-of-the-art theater it will be unlike anything else in Southern California.
Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited to the placement of the last glass panel on its bold new exterior. Designed by architect Quyen Luong it consists of over 800 custom made panels that, when placed together, evoke the mighty Pacific. It’s a striking facade to say the least.
After the ceremony I was able to take a hard hat tour of the interior and, let me tell you, it’s going to be fabulous. And, honestly, I didn’t think it would be when I first heard of the project. When news broke of the expansion last year I was disappointed that so much space was going to be devoted to a theater but as I walked through I had the feeling it was going to be something special.
The 300 seat theater will present an immersive array of films that bring the viewer up close and personal with sea life. There is a 32-foot-tall screen that wraps 180 degrees around the room and tilting stage that will offer further projection and there will be additional visual effects that will give each visitor an interactive experience. It sounds fantastic. Like Circle Vision at Disneyland but way, way better.
Pacific Visions won’t open until next spring but, in the meantime, the aquarium has acquired new sea creatures to view and learn about. After the tour, I headed inside to check them out.
The Scalloped Hammerhead is an endangered species found in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans. There are actually eight species of hammerheads and this is a smaller one that feeds off small fish, rays and squid. I’ve been interested in sharks since I was a kid and very much enjoyed watching this gal swim around her tank. She’s fast as lightening and is a wonder to behold.
Also fascinating is the Cuttlefish, a uniquely shaped cephalopod. Related to squids and octopi they eat crabs, shrimp and other mollusks. Unlike the always swimming shark these guys just chill in their tank enjoying the current. They may not be beauty queens but they’re pretty fascinating to watch.
I had a fun day at Aquarium of the Pacific visiting the new acquisitions and previewing Pacific Visions. Now, I’m super excited to see the project complete and can’t wait until spring!