On Friday, May 17, 2019, Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego opened Seadragons & Seahorses, a new permanent exhibition that celebrates the care and conservation of these unique creatures.
Seadragons & Seahorses is the largest indoor aquarium addition since the aquarium’s opening in 1992 and is home to Weedy and Leafy Seadragons, as well as several species of seahorses and pipefish.
The centerpiece of the exhibition is one of the largest seadragon habitats in the world. The 18-foot-wide, 9-foot-tall exhibit holds 5,375 gallons of water — that’s equivalent to 70 bathtubs! More than being a stunning display, the habitat has been designed to create an ideal environment to breed seadragons. Birch Aquarium hopes to be the first aquarium to successfully breed Leafy Seadragons in captivity.
“People love ocean animals, especially seadragons and seahorses. We invite our guests to draw closer to these wondrous fish, to appreciate their amazing qualities and their value as part of our natural world,” said Nan Renner, the aquarium’s senior director of learning design and innovation.
Seadragons & Seahorses immerses aquarium guests into the underwater lives of seahorses and seadragons, while giving a peek into the work Birch Aquarium’s renowned Husbandry Team is doing to ensure that these species survive into the future.
Dappled light, dramatic photography, and larger-than-life imagery set the scene as guests learn how to observe these animals the way scientists do: by noticing the unique features that distinguish individual animals and identifying courtship and mating behaviors that will make our breeding program a success.
“Birch Aquarium’s husbandry team has been committed to breeding seahorses and seadragons for 25 years,” said Jennifer Nero Moffatt, the aquarium’s senior director of animal care, science and conservation. “Seahorses and seadragons alike are threatened by human impact in the wild and our conservation program aims to relieve pressures, provide sanctuary and promote research of wild and captive animals to help conserve these charismatic creatures.”
The propagation of these species is increasingly vital due to human impacts and climate change’s warming oceans. Joining our partners in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Birch Aquarium’s seahorse and seadragon conservation efforts support Species Survival Plans (SSPs), cooperatively managed programs that oversee the population management of select species within AZA member institutions and enhance conservation of species in the wild. Each SSP Program coordinates the individual activities of participating member institutions through a variety of species conservation, research, husbandry, management, and educational initiatives.
This exhibition is made possible through generous donations from the community. If you are interested in learning more or supporting Seadragons & Seahorses, please contact John Matthews at firstname.lastname@example.org or (858) 822-5803.
The exhibition is included in the cost of Birch Aquarium admission, which is $19.50 for adults, $15 for children (3-17).
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 fishes and invertebrates from the cold waters of the Pacific Northwest to the tropical waters of Mexico and the western Pacific. An interactive museum showcases research discoveries by Scripps scientists on climate, Earth and ocean science, and features interactive elements. Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Birch Aquarium has an annual attendance of more than 470,000, including 50,000 school children.
Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, is one of the oldest, largest, and most important centers for global science research and education in the world. Now in its second century of discovery, the scientific scope of the institution has grown to include biological, physical, chemical, geological, geophysical, and atmospheric studies of the earth as a system. Hundreds of research programs covering a wide range of scientific areas are under way today on every continent and in every ocean. The institution has a staff of more than 1,400 and annual expenditures of approximately $195 million from federal, state, and private sources. Scripps operates oceanographic research vessels recognized worldwide for their outstanding capabilities. Equipped with innovative instruments for ocean exploration, these ships constitute mobile laboratories and observatories that serve students and researchers from institutions throughout the world. Birch Aquarium at Scripps serves as the interpretive center of the institution and showcases Scripps research and a diverse array of marine life through exhibits and programming for more than 430,000 visitors each year. Learn more at scripps.ucsd.edu and follow us at Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
About UC San Diego
At the University of California San Diego, we embrace a culture of exploration and experimentation. Established in 1960, UC San Diego has been shaped by exceptional scholars who aren’t afraid to look deeper, challenge expectations and redefine conventional wisdom. As one of the top 15 research universities in the world, we are driving innovation and change to advance society, propel economic growth and make our world a better place. Learn more at www.ucsd.edu.