Birch Aquarium Is Now Open!
Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego is now open with new safety procedures and a brand new touch experience on Tide Pool Plaza.
The aquarium, which closed on March 12 and reopened briefly in July, has adopted a number of new practices to keep guests — as well as staff and volunteers — safe and healthy. Guest capacity will be limited, so advanced reservations are required for all guests, including members.
“We are confident that we have created a safe and healthy environment for our guests as well as our staff and are thrilled to welcome back our members and guests,” said Executive Director Harry Helling.
Safety for one and all
In addition to requiring face coverings for all staff and guests ages 2 and up, Birch Aquarium has implemented safety screenings for guests; created a one-way pathway to encourage social distancing; increased the number of hand washing and sanitizing stations; and upgraded its HVAC system. As an added safety measure, Birch Aquarium staff will also be completing daily symptom screenings, as well as frequent COVID-19 testing.
In order to encourage social distancing, activities where large numbers of people typically gather, such as dive shows and feedings, have been cancelled, and some of the high-touch exhibit elements such as the water tables and touch screens have been removed. Many exhibits have newly-integrated QR codes to allow guests to engage in new ways from the safety of their cell phones.
Tide Pool Plaza
Tide Pool Plaza is where guests will notice the biggest change. The aquarium’s newest addition is an animal touch experience where young guests can come nose-to-nose with baby sharks, and all guests can enjoy gently touching juvenile Swell Sharks, Horn Sharks and Round Rays, endangered Pink Abalone, sea stars and more. Here guests will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with these amazing local creatures while learning about the Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s) right off our coast.
Haunted Aquarium Remix
On October 1, Birch Aquarium will launch Haunted Aquarium Remix, an outdoor Halloween-themed celebration that will continue even if the indoor areas of the aquarium have to close to meet state and local COVID-19 guidelines. More information on Haunted Aquarium Remix can be found HERE!
“With the Halloween celebration, we are working to create a fun and engaging seasonal ‘outdoor aquarium’ experience that will allow us to serve our community, even if our indoor spaces have to close,” said Helling. “Continuing to offer the aquarium as a resource to the community is our goal.”
Virtual Youth Programs Available
During the temporary closure, the aquarium began offering a series of virtual programs including virtual summer camps, which were so successful that the aquarium is now launching a suite of new virtual education programs. Virtual Youth and School Group Programs will be available now to groups of students, including schools, homeschool groups, after school programs, and scout groups. A Virtual After School Series will be offered in the fall, winter, and spring to individuals in kindergarten through grade 8.
More details on Birch Aquarium’s reopening, including important information for guests planning their next visit, can be found on the FAQ page. To help support the aquarium on its mission to connect understanding to protecting our ocean planet, visit the Giving page.
Timed tickets for both members and the general public can be reserved HERE. Admission is $19.50 for adults, $15 for children (3-17). Annual memberships are also available.
See you there….and stay healthy, San Diego!