The Local Aquarium Network

Sunflower Star by Josh Friedman

Did you know that the Aquarist staff at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium collects the majority of the animals we exhibit? We don't order these animals online and we don’t run to the local store to buy a new fish or invertebrates. A Scientific Collections Permit from the California Department of Fish and Game allows us to dive and collect organisms for display at the Aquarium. But every once in a while, when we are looking for new, elusive and hard to find animals, we need to call out to our friends in the network.

Over the years, the Aquarium staff has developed very special relationships with neighboring aquaria and marine science learning facilities. This unique network helps all of us in the fight for marine conservation and the pursuit of marine science.

One special relationship is with the folks at the Catalina Island Marine Institute, CIMI. Over the years we have had the pleasure of using their facilities when we dive and collect animals in the waters surrounding Catalina. We also have helped each other by sharing animals, knowledge and support. In fact, there are current staff members at the Aquarium that used to work at CIMI and some CIMI staffers that first worked as interns at the Aquarium!

Last week, as the CIMI camps closed for the winter break, we received many new animals from Camp Fox and Camp Toyon, including sunflower sea stars, a juvenile sheephead and the rare slate pencil urchin, Eucidaris. The animals came over on the ferry, transported in coolers with battery-operated aerators. Some of these animals will become part of the Aquarium's permanent collections, but some will live here temporarily. Our staff will care for these critters as if they were our own and once the CIMI camps reopen in January, the Aquarium staff will carefully pack up the animals in transport coolers to sail back across to Santa Catalina Island.

Most of these animals are currently being held off exhibit in quarantine to ensure they are acclimating to their new environment. We hope to exhibit some of the species after the new year, so please grab your friends and family and visit the Aquarium to see what's new.