Located at the end of the Manhattan Beach Pier in Los Angeles' South Bay, the Roundhouse Aquarium is a fun, informative, free way to spend some time on one of our most beautiful beaches (#6 in the world according to Brooke Burke and the "E!Wild on..." show) It would be more beautiful if the Chevron oil refinery wasn't planted a mile down the coast in El Segundo, but that's another story, for another day.

The Roundhouse Lab and Aquarium is run by Oceanographic Teaching Stations (OTS). OTS is a small non-profit education corporation that provides marine science classes to public and private grades K-12 at the shoreline and tidepools of Manhattan Beach. During a three hour visit students learn about pollution awareness regarding human impact on our coastal areas and take part in a beach exploration where they can dig for crabs and clams in the sand, identify local birds, and learn about the tides.

The Aquarium houses several exhibits that are interactive. You can pet at least three kinds of rays and various tide pool animals common to the area in the "Touch Tank" and "Ray Petting Pool". A lobster and crab tank holds Giant Spider Crabs, Cancer Crabs and a California Spiny Lobster the size of my torso. There's even a Nursery Tank with several kinds of baby sharks, a rainbow of slugs and scallops and they say there's an octupus hiding somewhere in there, but I never got a chance to see that. There's also a "learning center" upstairs with books, games, puzzles and some cool artifact type stuff. The staff holds a free storytime and craft project every Sunday at 11 a.m.

Teachers can even "Super Size" their field trips by joining the Aquarium in their "Key to the Sea" program. Sponsored by Heal the Bay, this program is designed to act as a springboard to getting children involved in the community by teaching them about watershed stewardship, stormwater pollution prevention, marine conservation and beach safety. It's free and available to K-4 teachers.

The Roundhouse is free to the public to visit, although a $2 donation is suggested. It's open weekdays form 3 p.m. till sunset and weekends from 10 a.m. till sunset. Its a great place to take anyone visiting LaLaLand when you're strapped for cash or if you have kids along.

If you live in the area and you are interested, the Roundhouse is always looking for volunteers and/or people to sponsor a class or an outreach program for your childs school or a low-income district school. Of course, any donations are tax deductible, yadda, yadda... and your name goes on a plaque on the wall of supporters. =) Check out the website for more info: http://www.smalltown.com/roundhouse/volunteer.html


Roundhouse Lab and Aquarium Staff

Kecia Joy - Educational Director

Katrina Browne - Fundraising Coordinator

Eric Martin - Head Aquarist/Marine Science Educator

Catie Farias - Volunteer Coordinator/Marine Science Educator/Assistant Aquarist

Tom Galassi - Aquarist/Marine Science Educator/Volunteer Coordinator

David Lloyd - Operations Assistant

...and the Roundhouse dog, Idgie - who can often be found hiding under the staff desk or wandering around greeting visitors


staff and fieldtrip info yoinked from: http://www.smalltown.com/roundhouse/index.html