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Today's Hours: 9:00 am – 8:00 pm

Rethemed Southern California Gallery

Discover colorful reefs, kelp forests, and sea grass beds as you meet a pod of lobsters, an octopus, deepwater fish, and more in our new Southern California Gallery.

Two Spot octopus closeup

Credit: Aquarium of the Pacific/Robin Riggs

The Southern California Gallery will feature over ten exhibits and more than three dozen species. Highlighted animals will include the California two-spot octopus, leopard and horn sharks, California scorpionfish, a moray eel, California spiny lobsters, Catalina goby, and California’s state marine fish—the Garibaldi. Visitors will be able to get up close to these animals as they explore a variety of new exhibits.

Two of the exhibits will focus on underwater habitats off Catalina: Casino Point kelp forests and deep-sea hydrocorals at Farnsworth Bank. Another exhibit will focus on oil rigs, which serve as artificial reefs located between the mainland near the Aquarium and Catalina Island. An ecosystem has formed on the pilings that rise up from the sea floor since the placement of oil platforms, which started in the 1960s.

The color changes as visitors explore the Aquarium’s expansive new seagrass meadow exhibit, inspired by seagrass in shallow waters of bays in Orange County. These underwater meadows not only serve as a nursery for juvenile fish, but also a natural protective barrier against coastal erosion and are a reservoir for carbon.

From these sunny waters, the Aquarium will take you into dark cavernous rocky reefs exhibit where you will see a pod of California spiny lobsters. Visitors will also be transported forty miles off the shore through the Aquarium’s new open ocean exhibit where they can watch sea jellies floating in this blue-water environment.

Also in the larger Southern California/Baja Gallery is the nearly three-story tall Honda Blue Cavern with iconic sea bass, 211,000 gallon Seal and Sea Lion Habitat, the Ray Habitat Touchpool, and Shorebird Sanctuary exhibit. The Aquarium’s Gulf of California exhibit features some of the variety of one of the most biologically productive and diverse seas in the world. It includes unique species of butterflyfishes, and large silvery fish called Mexican lookdowns.

Animals of the Southern California Gallery

abalone on green kelp

Credit: Aquarium of the Pacific/Andrew Reitsma

Scorpionfish on dark blue background

Credit: Aquarium of the Pacific/Robin Riggs

Moray eel's face in kelp

Credit: Aquarium of the Pacific/Andrew Reitsma

Lobsters huddled underneath a rock

Credit: istockphoto

Leopard shark swims by

Credit: Brent Trafton

Kelpfish hiding in algae

Credit: istockphoto

Giant Sea Bass swimming

Giant Sea Bass (*Stereopsis gigas^) Credit: Aquarium of the Pacific/Robin Riggs

Orange garibaldi fish in kelp

Credit: Michael Zeigler