Outdoor Experiences

In its outdoors-only configuration, Birch Aquarium has activated Tide Pool Plaza, the Entry Courtyard, Smargon Courtyard, and the Education Courtyard to offer a variety of outdoor activities for guests to explore and enjoy. A map of all of the outdoor activities can be found here.

Activities include: 

Entrance Courtyard

  • Giant Blue Octopus by Jessica Ling Findley: Grab an octopus selfie with our giant inflatable octopus and be sure to use #BirchAquarium on your social profiles. 
  • Observe + Wonder: Guests will see specimens and art inspired by invertebrates from local artist, Siena McKim. Put your observation skills to the test as you use your scientist eye to connect with and explore the wonders of the ocean.

Tide Pool Plaza

  • Marine Protected Area Touch Experience: Guests touch local animals, including small sharks and rays, sea hares and snails, while learning about Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). 
  • South Tide Pool Touch Experience: We’ll bring tide pooling to you by providing a chance to touch La Jolla locals, like anemones, urchins, and sea cucumbers.
  • Artist / Scientists in Residence See our resident artist / scientists at work! Join Siena McKim and Brian Gibson on Tide Pool Plaza as they bring art to life. The schedule will be posted to Birch Aquarium’s website when available.  

The Galleria 

  • Kelp Cam on the Big Screen: As you head from the Entry Courtyard to Tide Pool Plaza, check out what’s going on in our Giant Kelp Forest Exhibit up on the big screen.

Education Courtyard 

  • Oddities Outdoors: It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, it’s a … Giant Tube Worm? Discover some amazing specimens through comic book-inspired panels that highlight the astonishing adaptations (aka super powers) of ocean species. 
  • Whale Fall Exploration: Learn what happens after a whale falls to the ocean floor by exploring whale bones and invertebrate specimens alongside our Wyland mural.

Smargon Courtyard 

  • NEW! Growing Up Seahorse: New to the outdoors-only lineup is an experience that gives guests a look into the diverse world of seahorses. Check out juvenile and adult seahorses, learn about Birch Aquarium’s renowned breeding program, and understand what it takes to care for these unusual fish.
  • Coral Reef Animal Touch Experience: Dip your hands into the warm waters of a tropical reef and touch animals like cleaner shrimp, hermit crabs, sea stars and even young epaulette sharks.
  • Winter Migrators Tracking: Have you ever wondered who passes through our waters during the winter season? Guests will learn about wintertime ocean species that migrate along the San Diego coastline and be able to log what they see!
  • Shark Poetry by Dovi Kacev: Adjacent to our live sharks, learn about sharks through beautiful illustrations and poetry from Dovi Kacev.
  • Local Sharks: Explore the diversity of the local shark and ray species right off the La Jolla coast by checking out shark jaws, teeth and other specimens.
  • Shark Shores: Come face-to-face with La Jolla’s legendary Leopard Sharks and other species of elasmobranchs (sharks and rays) at Shark Shores. The large outdoor exhibit allows you to experience the sandy bottomed habitat of La Jolla Shores without getting wet!
  • Life Starts Small: Nursery Animals: Observe young animals from nearby cool temperate waters, like clumps of mussels, swell shark egg cases and juvenile sharks, sand crabs, juvenile zebra perch and garibaldi, gorgonians, limpets, jellies, decorator crabs, seagrasses, and nudibranchs.