7 SoCal Aquariums to See Sharks During Shark Week This Summer

Zebra shark at Aquarium of the Pacific. Photo by Ashley Erikson (2019)

The 35th annual Shark Week started Sunday July 24th on Discovery channel with 25 hours of new shows and amazing shark footage. If you are looking to get up close and personal with real sharks this shark week, then check out these seven family-friendly aquariums in Southern California that you can visit this summer.

 1.Aquarium of the Pacific (Long Beach) Just an hour from Burbank, Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific is the best place to see and touch sharks this summer.  Visit their 10,000 square-foot Shark Lagoon and get up close with some large sharks and rays including the zebra shark and grey reef sharks.  At their touch tanks you can feel the sandpaper skin of the bamboo and epaulette sharks.  For a personal encounter, you can sign up to feed the bamboo sharks their morning meal before the aquarium even opens to the public. In the new Babies! exhibit open through April 2023, visit the juvenile zebra sharks that still haven’t grown out of their stripes.

Aquarium of the Pacific. Photo by Ashley Erikson (2019)

2. Cabrillo Marine Aquarium (San Pedro) The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium works to conserve the marine life of Southern California through research and education.  Here you can see exhibits representing the kelp forests, rocky shores, mudflats, open oceans, and sandy beaches of California.  In their outdoor touch tank you can meet and touch swell sharks, while inside the museum you can view swell shark egg cases which resemble seaweed for camouflage. Lights on the egg cases allow you to take a glimpse inside the sacks and see the tiny baby sharks swimming around inside.

Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. Photo by Ashley Erikson (2019)

3. Heal the Bay Aquarium ( Santa Monica) Located along the Santa Monica pier, the Heal the Bay Aquarium is a nonprofit dedicated to creating safer and cleaner waterways in Los Angeles. Their shark exhibit features horn sharks and swell sharks, while other exhibits include animals from rocky reefs, the kelp forest, tidal surges, and marine life found under the Santa Monica pier.

Heal the Bay Aquarium. Photo courtesy of Instagram @Healthebay

4. Birch Aquarium at Scripps (La Jolla) The Birch Aquarium is part of the UC San Diego Scripps Institution of Oceanography and features over 60 habitats of fish and invertebrates. Here you can see a La Jolla native, the legendary leopard shark in their Shark Shore exhibit. From their Tide Pool Plaza deck you can get your hands on sea anemones, hermit crabs, sea cucumbers and lobsters, all while taking in the breathtaking views of the Pacific ocean.

Birch Aquarium at Scripps. Photo by Ashley Erikson (2021)

5. Roundhouse Aquarium Teaching Center (Manhattan Beach) Located in Downtown Manhattan Beach at the very end of the pier, the Roundhouse Aquarium recently underwent a $4 million renovation to better engage and connect with visitors through hands-on interactive experiences. Here you can see over 100 species of animals that are found in the Santa Monica Bay including horn sharks, swell sharks, and leopard sharks.

Roundhouse Aquarium. Photo courtesy of Instagram @roundhouseaquarium

6. SEA LIFE Aquarium (Carlsbad) The SEA LIFE Aquarium is park of the LEGOLAND theme park and Multi-Park Tickets are needed to visit both the aquarium and the park. Come see the beautiful black tip reef shark while exploring their Ocean Tunnel exhibit. SEA LIFE Trust, the aquarium’s partner charity, works to protect sharks and their habitats through conservation and research. 

SEA LIFE Aquarium. Photo courtesy of Visit Carlsbad.

7. California Science Center: Ecosystems (Los Angeles) While the California Science Center has many rotating and permanent exhibits, they also are home to the Ecosystems exhibition which opened in 2010. As part of the Ecosystems, a 188,000 gallon kelp tank is full of marine life including leopard sharks and horn sharks. Other tanks can be see in the Island Zone area that homes tropical reef fish and the Extreme Zone: Rocky Shore where you can get hands on with tide pool marine animals in their outdoor touch tanks.

California Science Center. Photo by Ashley Erikson (2019)

All of these aquariums and exhibits are with a few hours of Burbank, so which one will you visit this summer? 

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