SAN DIEGO — Starting in January, the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla will begin offering visitors a chance to see bioluminescense, bioflorescence, and underwater acoustics as part of their monthly ‘Oceans at Night’ program.
For one night on a select Thursday of each month, the aquarium will welcome visitors ages 21+ into their exhibits after hours to chat with scientists, play games, and enjoy glow-in-the-dark cocktails and tasty small bites.
“We’re really excited to get to share the aquarium when people aren’t normally here,” said Cari Paulenich, Program Manager of Public Engagement for the Birch Aquarium. “People kind of have this idea that the fish go to sleep at night. So we thought, how cool to be able to share what happens in the evening when it gets dark. That really was our inspiration.”
The events will focus on connecting visitors with the aquarium's inhabitants and showing off the changes they’ll see at night with bioluminescence and biofluorescence on full display. Different light colors and types of lights will illuminate exhibits, showing sights that can’t normally be seen during the day.
“Bioluminescence is when an animal has a chemical reaction in their body and emits light. And then we’re also going to be talking about biofluorescence where an animal takes in light and the color that comes out is slightly different,” added Paulenich.
Scientists will also be present to talk with guests about the biology behind the changes seen in the marine plants and animals. Guests can mingle outside overlooking the La Jolla coastline with a nighttime ocean view and enjoy live music too.
“Planning for this event involved some of us kind of wandering around in the dark with some flashlights and that was really a lot of moments of discovery for us,” Paulenich told CBS 8. “We were kind of acting the part of getting to be excited and discover new things. So we’re hoping to get to share that with people and hopefully they’ll have the same sense of excitement that we did.”
Oceans at Night will begin on Thursday, January 26, 2023 from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Events will be held on select Thursdays throughout the year. Tickets are $27 for members, and $30 for the general public. There’s also an upgraded experience available for visitors that included a complimentary drink. The aquarium says to expect “an interactive experience with bioluminescence that can be enjoyed at home. Plus, aquarium staff will have a variety of different corals fluorescing in a rainbow of colors.” The upgraded package will cost $67.50 for members and $75 for nonmembers.
Scripps first public aquarium exhibit opened in La Jolla in 1905. It’s been growing ever since. It wasn’t until 1992 with a donation from the Stephen and Mary Birch Foundation that the aquarium got the new name.
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