Aquariums and Zoos,  Careers,  Conservation,  How-To's,  Marine Bio News

How to Support California Aquariums in the COVID-19 Era

Rich with biodiversity and community outreach, aquariums offer glimpses into our ocean world. However, after a year of government-mandated shutdowns, aquariums in California are experiencing severe financial challenges. Since March 2020, numerous aquariums have remained shuttered, while others have sporadically opened and closed. For those aquariums that have been able to open, they still face barriers, such as capacity restrictions.

As lockdowns continue to impact California, it is essential to show support for these aquariums and their marine conservation efforts. To learn how you can help aquariums in California, explore the following links and information.

Photo by Wren Schwartz

Aquarium of the Bay | San Francisco, CA

Perched atop PIER 39, the Aquarium of the Bay overlooks San Francisco’s coastline and provides care for over 20,000 marine species. At the Aquarium of the Bay, visitors can explore exhibits teeming with life. For example, the Aquarium of the Bay has galleries dedicated to northern California species, like the river otter and the California state marine fish, the Garibaldi.

If you’d like to assist the Aquarium of the Bay during these difficult times, consider donating or visiting their Ecostore. Through the Ecostore, you can purchase items, such as beach towels, shirts, or coffee mugs—all of which help fund aquarium operational costs. Additionally, show your support for the Aquarium of the Bay on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

After weeks of shutdown, the Aquarium of the Bay finally re-opened its doors on March 4, 2021. So, if you’re in the area and feel comfortable, consider visiting the Aquarium of the Bay in person.

Aquarium of the Pacific | Long Beach, CA

In sunny southern California, the Aquarium of the Pacific is one of the busiest aquariums in the country with an estimated 1.7 million guests per year. Offering an array of exhibits, the Aquarium of the Pacific has over 12,000 animals on display, including sharks, penguins, and sea otters.

As of now, the Aquarium of the Pacific is open. However, the toll of government lockdowns is still palpable. To help the Aquarium of the Pacific, consider donating, adopting an animal, or donating a vehicle. For more ways to assist, check out this page. Here, you’ll find more information about memberships, memorial gifts, etc…

If you’d like to connect with the Aquarium of the Pacific on social media, check them out on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

Aquarium of the Pacific | Photo by James Lee

Birch Aquarium | San Diego, CA

Along the scenic seaside bluffs of La Jolla, the Birch Aquarium offers an immersive and hands-on aquarium experience. Known for its famous seadragon husbandry, the Birch Aquarium has a broad variety of marine animals, including leopard sharks and a loggerhead sea turtle. Furthermore, the Birch Aquarium has several touch tanks where guests can interact with tide pool critters, like sea cucumbers, sea stars, and anemones.

Since March 2020, the Birch Aquarium has faced several closures. However, today, the Birch Aquarium is fully open to the public. Just like other aquariums, the Birch Aquarium still faces capacity restrictions.

If you’d like to help the Birch Aquarium uphold its mission of science outreach and ocean conservation, consider making a donation. If you’d like to show support in other ways, check out their list of philanthropy options. For instance, purchasing a membership will help with aquarium operational costs.

On March 31, 2021, the Birch Aquarium, in collaboration with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, will be hosting a fundraising concert called “All Together for Animals.” To tune into this exclusive concert, purchase tickets, and a portion of the proceeds will go towards the Birch Aquarium and its conservation mission.

Lastly, share support for Birch Aquarium’s efforts by following them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest.

Living Coast Discovery Center | Chula Vista, CA

Nested in the Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge in San Diego Bay, the Living Coast Discovery Center is a zoo and aquarium dedicated to conserving coastal environments. Due to government lockdowns, the Living Coast Discovery Center has remained closed to the public since March 2020.

Because of the financial toll lengthy lockdowns have caused, the Living Coast Discovery Center is calling upon supporters to help with animal care and operating costs. To assist the Living Coast Discovery Center with its coastal conservation efforts, please consider donating or purchasing a membership.

If you’d like to visit in person and interact with animals, like tortoises and sharks, the Living Coast Discovery Center offers 2-hour guided-tours for up to 10 people. For more information about booking a tour, visit here.  

As of now, the Living Coast Discovery Center hopes to open around summer 2021. In the meantime, follow the Living Coast Discovery Center on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

San Diego Bay
San Diego Bay | Photo by Kelsey Fleming

Monterey Bay Aquarium | Monterey Bay, CA

Considered one of the best aquariums in the country, the Monterey Bay Aquarium inspires people of all ages and backgrounds to protect the ocean. Over the past 35 years, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has been on the frontlines of ocean conservation. However, since March 2020, the aquarium has remained completely closed because of government mandates.

To help the Monterey Bay Aquarium during these arduous times, consider supporting their ‘Special Fund for the Aquarium.’ Home to over 80,000 plants and animals, like Rosa and Selka in the sea otter exhibit, the aquarium provides exemplary care for all of its residents. If you’re interested in supporting their efforts, please take a look at donating.

Perhaps, you’d like to support the Monterey Bay Aquarium in other ways. In that case, check out their online store where you can purchase ocean-themed merchandise, like clothing, coffee mugs, and plush animals.

If you’d like to support the Monterey Bay Aquarium in other ways, consider following their social media. For instance, you can find the Monterey Bay Aquarium on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube.

California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium | San Francisco, CA

With over 40,000 animals, the Steinhart Aquarium—part of the California Academy of Sciences—has a long-standing history of science outreach. Since 1923, the Steinhart Aquarium has promoted conservation and sustainability. Featuring extensive coral reef ecosystems, penguins, and a swamp habitat, the Steinhart Aquarium has a number of intriguing exhibits.

On March 17, 2021, the California Academy of Sciences finally re-opened its doors after almost a year of lockdown. Therefore, if you want to check out the aquarium in person, this is the opportunity.

Having been closed for so long, the California Academy of Sciences has faced tremendous difficulties. If you’d like to help the California Academy of Sciences recover, donate to the ‘Academy Resilience Fund’ or purchase a membership.

Make sure to follow the California Academy of Science on social media, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, and GIPHY.

California Academy of Sciences | Photo by SAIRA

At the end of the day, aquariums work to connect people with their environment. By bridging the divide between people and the ocean, aquariums pave a path for conservation and compassion. Because of the lengthy COVID-19 shutdowns and restrictions in California, aquariums need our help more than ever.

Not quite ready to visit aquariums in person? Try out tide pooling! Check out this article to learn how to tide pool. Perhaps, you actually want to get in the water. In that case, read about how to snorkel here.

Hi, I’m a San Diego-based blogger who's passionate about marine biology, finance, and science communication. Having recently graduated from UC San Diego with a bachelor's in marine biology, I am now working on a certificate in science communication. Over the years, I’ve worked in laboratory research and science outreach at aquariums, zoos, and environmental research centers. When I’m not writing, you can find me home brewing, tide pooling, skydiving, playing DnD, or hanging out with my two adopted guinea pigs. Reach out to me anytime, and follow Sand Dollar Wallet!


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