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Heal the Bay Blog

Category: Plan Your Visit

Nov, 13, 2014 — Jaclyn Friedlander saw the email inviting Santa Monica Pier Aquarium volunteers to build a Rube Goldberg Machine for this Saturday’s S.T.E.A.M. Machines event on the Pier and took the challenge to her most creative and handy friends.

“We had two objectives,” Jaclyn explains, “to incorporate as much of Heal the Bay’s message as we could and build a machine that works. The second part of that is actually not as easy as it looks when it comes to building a Rube Goldberg Machine.”

A Rube Goldberg machine is “an overly complex contraption, designed with humor and a narrative, to accomplish a simple task,” according to the national competition’s official website. Teams of high school and college students will compete beginning at 11:30 a.m.  Saturday marks the second annual regional Rube Goldberg contest, which will showcase machines that erase a chalkboard in a unique fashion.

The free event is hosted by Heal the Bay along with the Santa Monica Pier Corp. and presenting sponsor Time Warner Cable’s Connect a Million Minds initiative.

Friedlander’s creation won’t be entered in the contest, but will add to the multitude of fun and innovative activities – from bicycle-powered ice cream to 3-D printing, to opportunities for all to build, draw, paint and create. The event takes place 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the east end of the Pier. The theme will continue at the Aquarium, where visitors can pilot an underwater ROV, capturing marine samples with mechanical claws.

Friedlander calls the process of building a Rube Goldberg machine one of “creative trial and error with major contributions from everyone.” The six-member team did include one person with an engineering degree who creates video games for a living (Jason Wishnov) and a second, Timothy Ries, who Friedlander credits with using his construction skills to create the base of the machine.

After about eight hours in the planning phase, the team — which also included Trisha Hershberger, Justin Langley, and Nate (goes by his first name only  ) — spent a couple of hours to collect the necessary materials and another 14 hours building. So their baby is definitely a 24-hour labor of love. Built at YouTube’s studio in Los Angeles, the group created a time-lapse video as well, which will be available on Hershberger’s YouTube channel any day now.

When watching the machine in action, notice how a shell became a key component to a crucial step. But the true secret ingredient? Lots of duct tape. 

Time Warner Cable



The Frightfully “Fintastic” Fishy Fest held last weekend at our Santa Monica Pier Aquarium lived up to its name. The marine center was packed with all sorts of witches, ghosts and ghouls. It was a monstrously successful event and we have some neighbors and friends to thank who contributed to the fun.

  • The Girl Scouts of Troop 12815 brought reusable trick-or-treat bags they created from recycled tee shirts. The girls gave the bags out to our guests for decorating, while sharing ocean pollution education.
  • Parade partners Rusty’s Surf Ranch, The Albright, Bubba Gump and Pacific Park all provided treats for our parade of goblins. And a special shout-out to our honorary grand marshal, Treeman of Venice, who put all his passion for the natural world – and his considerable height – into leading the parade. Thanks also to filmmaker Michael Angelo for documenting the procession and post-parade festivities at the Aquarium. It was a “tree-mendous” weekend!

And last but not least, we thank Bob Shanman of Wild Birds Unlimited in Torrance, who is a true believer in getting kids outside and experiencing the natural world. For years, he has worked with our Key to the Sea and Key to the Watershed programs, providing binoculars at cost (or below cost) for our programs and servicing them every year free of charge.

What a treat!  

Halloween parade at Santa Monica Pier Aquarium

Halloween parade at Santa Monica Pier Aquarium



Our Santa Monica Pier Aquarium always loves dressing up for Halloween and Dia de los Muertos. There’s the colorful papel picado hanging from the rafters, mini pumpkins decorating the tanks and spooky enhancements all around. Volunteers and visitors are encouraged to celebrate the season by arriving in spooky gear the last weekend in October for the Aquarium’s Fishy Fest.

For those who need a little help putting a costume together, both inspiration and materials will be available.The Aquarium is partnering with Santa Monica’s Resource Recovery and Recycling division to offer gently used goblin garb to visitors.  Anyone who drops off a costume with the library by Oct. 15 gets a coupon to pick out a costume at the Fairview Branch of the public library Saturday, Oct. 18. Costume swappers also receive a coupon for $1 off admission to our festivities.   

The leftover outfits from the costume swap are being donated to the Aquarium and will be available for anyone to use for the parade, stepping off in front of the marine science center at 3 p.m. Oct. 26. The trick-or-treat procession will make stops at neighboring Pier businesse. What a sweet deal for all the little monsters in your life!   



A ribbon-cutting ceremony to commemorate remodeled restrooms may not sound newsworthy at first glance. But when the remodeled bathrooms are in Heal the Bay’s Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, and the remodelers did all the work for free – well, that’s something to celebrate.

The dream team from One Week Bath will be lauded and the gleaming new restorooms will begin active duty this Sunday, October 12th, at 1pm. In addition to a ribbon-cutting, a presentation on water as a resource will follow in the Dorothy Green Room at 1:30 p.m.

Matt Plaskoff, a native of the area and the owner of One Week Bath, wanted to make a donation that would have a big impact to mark his company’s 2,000th bathroom redo. “When we learned that the public restrooms of the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium needed help, we knew we found a great recipient.”

“I grew up in the area,” Plaskoff continued. “I went to Santa Monica High School, Santa Monica College, raised my kids on the Bay, and I surf – the health of the Santa Monica Bay is something I am very passionate about. Knowing that these bathrooms are going to serve millions of kids that come to the Aquarium to learn about marine biology makes this one of the most meaningful projects in my career.”

Thank you Matt and One Week Bath!



Halloween always goes by too quickly for kids. There’s all that time deciding what you want to be, then there’s assembling the costume and all for one night of trick-or-treating. It’s enough to make a goblin grumpy.

Cheer up! The staff at our Santa Monica Pier Aquarium wants to prolong the holiday too. The second annual Santa Monica Pier Halloween Parade is the perfect opportunity for all creepy creatures to practice their trick-or-treating skills. Bring a costume (check out the City of Santa Monica’s Costume Swap for a fun way to trade in your costume from last year into something new)– or make one at the Aquarium’s Halloween/Dia de los Muertos craft station before the parade. We’ll distribute reusable trick–or-treat bags (as long as supplies last) and little monsters can decorate the bags and be ready to step off in front of the Aquarium at 3 p.m. on Sunday, October 26.

You can bet your cauldron we’ll have a few colorful sea creatures to lead the parade up on the Pier, where local businesses plan to be ready with treats!

Need costume inspiration? Check out our ocean-themed Halloween Pinterest board!

Santa Monica Pier Aquarium Dia de los Muertos Halloween Celebration Ocean Inspired Papel Picado



Heal the Bay’s Santa Monica Pier Aquarium joins more than 1,800 museums nationwide in offering free admission to military personnel and their families this summer. In collaboration with the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families and the Department of Defense, the Aquarium will admit all active duty military personnel and up to five family members free of charge from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

This is the third year the Aquarium has participated in the Blue Star Museums program. Blue Star Families is a national, nonprofit network of military families from all ranks and services, including guard and reserve, dedicated to supporting, connecting and empowering military families. Blue Star Families hosts an array of programs with its partners and also works directly with the Department of Defense and senior members of local, state and federal government to highllight military family issues. Working in concert with fellow nonprofits, community advocates and public officials, Blue Star Families raises awareness of the challenges and strengths of military family life and works to make military life more sustainable.

Congress established the National Endowment for the Arts in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector.

View the complete list of Blue Star Museums.



Heal the Bay’s Santa Monica Pier Aquarium recently teamed up with Wemo Media to help spread the word about ocean conservation via a new iPad game, SUPERFUGU.

The free 3-D game allows players to control an eco-warrior pufferfish named Fugu who must fend for himself to escape the threat of endangerment from urban and stormwater runoff, plastic pollution and overfishing.

Animated by Avatar Animation Director Andy Jones, with ocean science facts presented by oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, SUPERFUGU launched on iTunes on May 1.



Heading east, away from the beach and the surf, we were on a mission. The destination: Golden Road Brewing, just north of downtown. They had a special treat waiting for Heal the Bay staffers. Today was the day that the Heal the Bay IPA (India Pale Ale) would be tried and tested.

The partnership between Heal the Bay and Golden Road Brewing is a seemingly perfect match. The two-year old brewery, founded by Tony Yanow and Meg Gill, an avid surfer and swimmer, focuses on sustainability, local followers, doing things right for the community and jumpstarting a local movement of craft beer making. Other than the beer making, Heal the Bay’s focus has been on a similar trajectory for nearly 30 years.

The carbonation would be added later that night, but we sampled the essence of the ale, the brainchild of Golden Road’s team led by lead brewer Cole Hackbarth and brewmaster Jesse Houck. Both herald from places with histories of great brewers – Cole from Oregon and Jesse from San Francisco – but wanted to kick start that same passion in a place known for its love with food, drink and beautiful beaches: our home, Los Angeles.

When asked about how a beer that would represent Heal the Bay was created, I was given a beautifully worded description of the “two-row base malt, layered with three different hops (Citra, Centennial & Nelson Sauvin) that would bring about a citrus and fresh flavor to a light and drinkable IPA.” Yes I love it… but after a few more tastes and some casual banter in their “brewers” room, I got to see the artistic, yet scientific, nature of brewing at its best. Words that are associated with Heal the Bay, like “Summertime,” “Fresh” and “CLEAN” came up when they put their fine minds together to create a beer that would proudly wear the name of Heal the Bay. There it was! A beautiful partnership of a local brewer and their fine craftsmanship, representing Heal the Bay’s years of hard work to make our oceans, fresh, light and CLEAN – all in an IPA!

Golden Road’s Heal the Bay IPA will debut this Saturday when the new brew will be full of carbonation and available for everyone and anyone to try at the Santa Monica Pier for the Earth Day Blue/Green Festival. Just $10 gets you a sustainable bamboo pint mug and tastes of three different Golden Road beers at three Santa Monica Pier establishments (Big Deans, Rusty’s Surf Ranch and Santa Monica Pier Seafood) all the while supporting a clean ocean just in time for the start of summer.

— Nick Fash, Heal the Bay Education Specialist

Golden Road Brewing

Heal the Bay’s Santa Monica Pier Aquarium staff joins the Golden Road Brewing beer gurus for a toast to the ocean. (Photo by Golden Road Brewing)



The city of Santa Monica is bustling with development projects, and the area around our Santa Monica Pier Aquarium is at the hub of construction activity. We’re committed to providing updates on construction and links to websites that map the best routes and point out parking availability. Most importantly, please remember the Aquarium and the Pier are open! These links will help you get to the Aquarium — our sea urchins still need hugs.

More: Visitor Information for reaching the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. Still have questions? Call the Aquarium at 310-393-6149.



When the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium asked our neighbors to help us celebrate the marine center’s 10th anniversary throughout the month of March, they jumped at the bait, creating ocean-inspired concoctions to serve in their establishments.

We’re looking forward to spending a week making our way through the signature libations and food specials at these seven Santa Monica businesses – beginning March 1st to allow time for return visits! 

Neptune's MuseThe Basement Tavern will be serving up the Green Barnacle cocktail: jalapeño and honey dew infused vodka, citrus, agave, mint, and cucumber over ice.

·      Beachy Cream Organic Ice Cream will be scooping the flavor of the month, Peanut Butter Jellyfish.

·      The Hungry Cat will be pouring Neptune’s Muse (pictured right): gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, liquore Strega, Creme de Violette, served up with a black lava salt rim.

·      Lago Santa Monica  presents the Santa Monica Starfish cocktail: fresh oro blanco grapefruit, blood orange, Tru Organic Vodka, splash of sparkling prosecco.

·      The Lobster, featuring the Heal the Bay Tide Pool: Rain organic vodka, Midori, Malibu rum, chambord, splash of pineapple and orange juice, served straight up, with 10% of the proceeds going to the Aquarium. 

·      Rusty’s Surf Ranch premieres the Rubyfish Red: Absolut Ruby Red Vodka, white grapefruit juice and grenadine, served in a souvenir Rusty’s glass. Mention the Aquarium’s anniversary and receive 10 percent off the check.

·     Mariasol Restaurant will offer a 10% discount on all food (not alcohol) for all those who mention the Aquarium’s anniversary. 

Many thanks to our 10th Anniversary Party Partners!

As we commemorate a decade operating our Aquarium, we’re highlighting our history, previewing our plans for the NEXT 10 years and encourage all to celebrate with us.

If you haven’t already, come visit our Aquarium, located beach level at the Santa Monica Pier, just below the carousel. Join us the first weekend of March to celebrate our 10-year anniversary!