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Aquarium of the Pacific’s $53 million Pacific Visions wing opens Friday, May 24

Southern California’s largest aquarium just got even bigger.

The Aquarium of the Pacific’s first expansion in its 20-year history, known as Pacific Visions, opens to the public on Friday, May 24, with a mission to teach visitors about more than just the creatures living under the sea. It’s also about man-made climate change.

“It’s not about bigger tanks for bigger animals,” Jerry Schubel, the president and CEO of Aquarium of the Pacific, said last week during a preview of the new wing. “It’s about the one animal that’s putting all the other animals on this planet at risk: It’s about us and our activities that are causing so much trouble.”

With an emphasis on climate change and its effects on the oceans, the 29,000-square-foot, two-story Pacific Visions will inform guests about how human actions have led to the current crisis — and what can be done now to reverse course.

The most impressive addition in the $53-million new wing is a 300-seat theater, boasting a 130-foot-wide curved screen, that will use fog, wind, scent, strobe lights and seat vibration to carry its audience across the globe.

Other elements include an art gallery featuring rotating exhibits about marine life; a 2,600-square-foot orientation gallery with an 18-foot digital waterfall; and a culmination gallery, which includes games to test visitors’ knowledge, a 50-foot interactive media wall and three live-animals exhibits that will showcase species that exemplify different aspects of the fight against climate change.

“We could lose a million species before the end of this century,” Schubel said. “This is really serious. It isn’t just about feeling good. This is about the ecosystems that make it possible for human beings to thrive on this earth.”

If you go

Where: Aquarium of the Pacific, 100 Aquarium Way

When: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily

Tickets: General admission costs $29.95 for adults, $17.95 for children ages 3 to 11, and $26.95 for seniors ages 62 and up

Information: aquariumofpacific.org

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Source: Orange County Register

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