Take a Deep Dive into the Ocean Zone!

Spring is here and, with it, the opening of our new changing gallery exhibit: Ocean Zone! The exhibit showcases several tanks of live ocean animals, as well as models, fossil artifacts, and information on marine conservation. The ocean covers about 70% of the Earth’s surface, so how have the animals in it adapted to live in or near it?

You’ll see one wall devoted entirely to sharks. There are live-sized paintings of hammerhead, tiger, and great white sharks. Kids can play a shark info game or watch a video on sharks. We also have real shark jaws and fossils to touch and see.

Another part of the exhibit is the Reef Area, where kids can learn about the different corals and animals that make up a coral reef. Touch pieces of coral or watch a video about this beautiful marine environment. Next to this is our reef tank, with real live corals and fish for children to observe. There’s also information on reef conservation.

In the Diver Zone, you can play the Ocean Zone scavenger hunt, or compare yourself in size to giant sea creatures! You’ll also see a representation of the different zones of the ocean- depending on the depth, each level receives a certain amount of light and has particular life forms associated with it. You can try on a fish hat and pretend you’re swimming around deep in the ocean, too.

Some of the aquariums might look a little sparse- when setting up a new tank, it takes time to build up levels of beneficial bacteria and make sure all the chemical levels are correct. We want the best, healthiest environment for our fish and the other animals who will live in our tanks. We’re getting ready to add more animals so we hope you can meet them soon!

Ocean Zone, March 28th-January 7th, 2018

Attack of the Killer Mosquitoes! (Or Not?)

Many of you have probably seen what look like huge mosquitoes bouncing around in your house lately- dangerous, right? Wrong! These leggy critters are not a type of mosquito at all. They’re a different group of flies commonly called crane flies or mosquito hawks.

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crane fly larva

They don’t eat mosquitoes, nor do they bite people for blood as some mosquitoes do. In fact, adult crane flies eat very little at all. They hatch out of eggs as larva, just like butterflies. The larva live in streams or in moist soil, which is probably why we’re seeing a lot of them this year. Larva can damage turf and lawns in some parts of the world, but in S. California they don’t pose a major agricultural or economic problem.

After spending a few weeks underground getting nice and plump, they pupate and emerge as the familiar large fly in the picture above. And please don’t worry about them hurting you- it is physically impossible for them to bite or sting people. Adult crane flies don’t feed very much in the handful of days they spend as adults, though some may drink nectar from flowers or take in water with a spongy mouthpart.

There are about 15,000 different species of crane flies in the world, and they play a valuable part in the ecology and food chain. They range from a couple of millimeters to over 10 inches across. They’re a major source of food for birds and fish, and help aerate and enrich our soil.  So the next time you see one in your house, no need to get the rolled-up newspaper!