Birch Aquarium at Scripps Unveils a Deeper Look at San Diego Bay


 A new touch-screen display unveiled today at Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, provides visitors the opportunity to explore the natural resources, cultural uses and human impacts of one of the region's most important ecosystems - San Diego Bay.

Funded by the Unified Port of San Diego and the Peterson Charitable Foundation, the new display is located alongside two new tanks in the aquarium's Hall of Fishes that showcase representative species of marine life living in the Bay, including eelgrass and the Giant Pacific Seahorse. The interactive display reveals the economic and environmental uses of the bay, as well as Scripps research into this vital ecosystem.

"This exhibit will educate thousands of people about San Diego Bay's diverse environment and the role the public plays in affecting and protecting one of our region's most valuable natural resources," said Stephen P. Cushman, chairman of the board of Port Commissioners. "It also shows how the Port of San Diego is working to balance the many uses of the bay to ensure environmental and economic vitality."

Birch Aquarium at Scripps visitors explore the new San Diego Bay display. San Diego Bay is the cultural heartbeat of San Diego's waterfront. It stretches more than 12 miles from Point Loma, along Harbor Drive and south to Imperial Beach. Its shores are lined with parks, beaches, public art displays, dining and shopping, maritime industries and military bases.

As part of a watershed that begins more than 50 miles inland in the Laguna Mountains, San Diego Bay is the end of the line for creeks, rivers and more than 200 storm drains delivering urban and agricultural runoff from a 415-square-mile area.

"There is still so much to learn about San Diego Bay, and one of the most exciting components of the new exhibit is the opportunity to connect visitors with the important work of Scripps researchers studying this essential ecosystem in new ways," said Nigella Hillgarth, Birch Aquarium at Scripps executive director.

Visitors peer into a tank featuring marine animals that live in San Diego Bay. Scientists from Scripps and San Diego State University are working together through the Center for Bay and Coastal Dynamics - developed in conjunction with the Port of San Diego and Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute - to study natural processes and human impacts in San Diego Bay.

Through the use of cutting-edge technology, the researchers are developing the first detailed map of biological habitats and geological features on and below San Diego Bay's seafloor to better understand the relationships among physical dynamics, habitats and marine life.

Birch Aquarium's San Diego Bay display is the most recent enhancement to the aquarium's Hall of Fishes, which features fishes and invertebrates from the cold waters of the Pacific Northwest to the tropical waters of Mexico and beyond. In July, Birch Aquarium at Scripps installed touch screens in front of the Giant Pacific Octopus tank that allows visitors to delve deeper into its habitat and lifestyle with videos, images and conservation messages.

These two displays are the first steps in a planned digital overhaul of the entire Hall of Fishes.

About Birch Aquarium at Scripps: Birch Aquarium at Scripps is the public exploration center for the world-renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. Perched on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the aquarium features more than 60 habitats of fish and invertebrates from the cold waters of the Pacific Northwest to the tropical waters of Mexico and the Caribbean. An interactive museum showcases research discoveries by Scripps scientists on climate, Earth and ocean science. Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Birch Aquarium welcomes an annual attendance of more than 400,000 visitors, including 45,000 school children.

Additional Contacts

<p>Port of San Diego: Dale Frost Port Communications Dept. 619-686-6222</p>

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