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Miss the fish? Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach reopens this weekend

A seahorse display at the Aquarium of the Pacific.
A seahorse swims in a tank at the Aquarium of the Pacific.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Clown fish and sea anemones no longer need be seen only in “Finding Nemo.” Visitors can again view the sea creatures in person at Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific.

After closing for nearly three months amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the aquarium will reopen to members beginning at 10:45 a.m. Friday and again at 9 a.m. Saturday. On Sunday, the aquarium will reopen to the public at 9 a.m., according to its website.

A peaceful trip to the aquarium may be the antithesis of a strenuous workout at the gym — another sector of the Los Angeles economy that is reopening Friday — but aquarium officials think it may be just what’s needed after the stay-at-home order that’s been in place since mid-March.

“The aquarium is a very tranquil place, and watching the animals in the exhibits can be very relaxing,” spokeswoman Claire Atkinson said. “It’s also a place where families come for escape.”

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Visits will be by reservation only, and capacity will be limited. While the aquarium can accommodate between 10,000 and 13,000 people, it will allow only about a quarter of that inside each day.

Atkinson said the reservations for Friday were topping out at about 800 to 1,000.

Beginning next week, regular hours will be 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

Guests must wear masks, maintain social distance and travel in groups of six or fewer people. Visitors’ temperatures will be checked prior to their entrance, and hand sanitizer will be available throughout the aquarium.

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To prevent potential spread of the coronavirus, several programs are on hiatus, including animal meet-and-greets and behind-the-scenes tours. In addition, the Northern Pacific touch lab, horseshoe crab touch lab and Shark Lagoon children’s play area are all closed, officials said.

Though some fan favorites, including mascot appearances, won’t be available, a reimagined coral reef exhibit will debut. Sea enthusiasts can take a “virtual dive” into the Honda Pacific Visions Theater and meet new residents, including a green sea turtle, a red-footed booby and flashlight fish.

“Flashlight fish have glowing organs underneath their eyes that are full of bioluminescent bacteria,” said Atkinson, who finds the fish particularly enthralling. They “have sort of a flap so they can turn the organ around so it flickers on and off.”


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