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Aquarium Turns To Surf To Convince Visitors To Catch A Wave

Published on 5/10/2007 on Grunion Gazette

By Kelly Garrison, Features Editor

The tidal zone has moved ashore at the Aquarium of the Pacific’s new surfing and wave exhibit.

Starting May 25, aquarium goers can soak up knowledge about surfboards, tsunamis, sea life and more with a variety of educational programs. Known as “Catch a Wave,” the exhibition runs until March 31, 2008.

“The idea is to celebrate the Southern California surfing culture and talk about various environmental issues,” said Cecile Fisher, aquarium public affairs manager. “It represents the core images you think of when you think about the culture.”

The nonprofit organization creates summer exhibits and programs on a regular basis, Fisher said, but has never had an exhibit focused on the surfing culture. Catch a Wave will feature animal encounters, a sandcastle contest, speakers and classic surfing movies in what Fisher called a “multi-faceted” series of events.

“We haven’t done anything so all-encompassing before,” Fisher said. “It’s meant to educate people about the science of waves and the animals in the surf zones, and it’s an opportunity to talk about water quality issues.”

The exhibit, she said, appeals to all ages and “gives people another reason to come to the aquarium.” Movies in the film series range from older classics, such as “Gidget” (1959) to “Riding Giants” (2004).

“There’s a really good timeline of films, from very campy to serious,” Fisher said. “They’ll bring back a lot of memories for people.”

Amidst image displays and an interactive earthquake Richter scale, guests can also generate wind and surf in wave tanks. Audio interviews with tsunami survivors will play in the background as tanks show how waves interact with the shoreline.

“It was the result of brainstorming ideas,” content curator Kathryn Schubel said. “There will be a lot of visuals, levers to push, weights to pull and winds to generate.”

Staff at the aquarium worked with a team of scientists to gather information for the exhibit, Fisher said. Months of research and volunteer work went into preparation for Catch a Wave.

“People have done different things, from building walls to educating the staff,” Fisher said.

The aquarium features a variety of exhibits about Southern California, Baja, Northern and Tropical Pacific bodies of water. The organization budgets for programs like Catch a Wave with the help of corporate sponsors.

Catch a Wave opens Friday, May 25, and continues until March 31, 2008. The Aquarium of the Pacific is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily (open until 9 p.m. Fridays in July and August) and is at 100 Aquarium Way.

Admission is $20.95 for ages 12 and older, $17.95 for ages 62 and older, $11.95 for ages 3 to 11 and free for ages 2 or younger and for aquarium members.

For more information, call 590-3100 or visit

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