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Aquarium of the Pacific, home of the weedy sea dragon, celebrates 10 years

June 22, 2008 |  8:33 am

Aquarium_of_the_pacific_2 Can you believe it's been a decade since Aquarium of the Pacific opened its doors - and tanks? Despite a bit of a rocky start, the Long Beach attraction is thriving, as Louis Sahagun learns:

The aquarium ranks among the most popular in the nation in attendance, pulling in 1.4 million people a year from throughout Southern California. Aquarium revenues in 2007 were about $39 million, a 26% increase over 2006. Overall, its economic impact in Los Angeles and Orange counties has been about $1 billion, city officials said.

"This aquarium is on the younger side," said Steve Feldman, spokesman for the Assn. of Zoos and Aquariums, "but they are definitely among the biggest and the best."


At a time when the world's seas are in deep blue trouble, the aquarium assists in local coastal cleanups and fish population surveys. Last week it opened an exhibit called "Ocean on the Edge: Top 10 Ocean Issues," which includes a display that compares healthy coral with samples bleached white by diseases brought on by stress and temperature change.

And yes, there really is such a things as a "weedy sea dragon," which the Aquarium of the Pacific was the first to breed. It's a leafy-looking little marine creature, a relative of the sea horse. See pix here. Intrigued? Here's how to visit. Also en español.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Genaro Molina