Heal the Bay Blog

Category: Santa Monica

Santa Monica, California located in Los Angeles County is a popular eco-friendly coastal destination for families, couples, tourists and Southern California beachgoers.


Have a houseful of holiday guests? In need of an outing that won’t add too much stress to the already over-stretched wallet? Heal the Bay’s Santa Monica Pier Aquarium knows you’ll be looking for a fun destination to entertain all ages. Our marine science center will be open special holiday hours beginning Friday, Dec. 26th through Dec. 31st. Visit any of those days from 12:30 to 5:00 p.m.

Tuesdays are feeding days, and visitors are invited to help feed the sea stars at 2:30 p.m. A presentation and feeding at the open top shark and ray exhibit can be a refreshing experience, as the sharks often spray water right out of their tanks while anticipating their meal.

Any day of the week, guests can play hide and seek with an octopus, get a hug from a sea urchin, test their water conservation knowledge at the Watch Your Water exhibit, or put on a puppet show in the Aquarium’s puppet theater. 

The Aquarium will be closed New Year’s Day, and return to regular public hours on Friday, January 2nd, which begin at 2 p.m.

Festive Seahorse in a Santa Hat

A big thank you to Subaru Pacific for sharing the love with us this holiday season. The car company runs a national campaign – Share the Love – each year; for every car Subaru sells between the last week of November and January 2nd, they will donate $250 to one of six charities.  Heal the Bay is thrilled to be one of only two local charities chosen. Twenty-six of Subaru’s customers have already selected Heal the Bay as their charity of choice – the goal of raising $10,000 looks to be within reach!

We are thankful for the rain – and incredibly grateful that the employees of Team One were signed up to do a corporate cleanup at Venice Beach shortly after the first round of rain.  Thanks Team, for removing 114 pounds of trash and 2,214 cigarette butts from the beach.

And finally thanks to Madewell, which shared a portion of sales from a recent evening of holiday gift tag decorating at The Grove. We honestly appreciate HonestlyWTF for choosing us as the beneficiary of that crafty fundraiser. 

The holidays.

All those decorations, the wrapping paper, the packages, the extra groceries…wouldn’t it be great to have a couple of extra arms to help out with it all? Heal the Bay’s Santa Monica Pier Aquarium has a unique gift idea that will provide you with some extra arms—eight arms, to be exact.

Every December, our Aquarium offers one of its most popular marine creatures up for Aquadoption at a special holiday price. This year’s animal is…xylophone roll please…the octopus! Throughout the month of December, the octopus is available for $50–a bargain price that includes a year’s membership to Heal the Bay along with free admission to the Aquarium for a family of four. 

Octopuses are believed to be one of the smartest invertebrates on Earth, demonstrating the ability to learn new skills by watching one another. With their talent of changing color and texture, the octopus is a fascinating animal to observe.

The Aquadoption program provides all the benefits of adopting an animal while leaving the daily care to the Aquarium staff. If you choose to become an octopus mom or dad this holiday, you’ll receive a personalized packet with an adoption certificate, photo, fact sheet and two guest passes to the Aquarium. 

So save your arms and give everyone on your list a gift that will keep on giving all year long. You’ll make a lonely cephalopod’s day!

Your Aquadoption will underwrite the daily care and feeding of an Aquarium animal of your choice, and will also help support Heal the Bay’s ongoing mission to keep our oceans safe, healthy and clean. Thank you!

3 Ways to Aquadopt:

  1. Online
  2. By phone: Call 310-393-6149, x102
  3. In person: Visit us under the Pier Tue-Fri, 2-5pm or Sat-Sun, 12:30-5pm.

Santa Monica Pier Aquarium holiday aquadoption special

Last Saturday our Santa Monica Pier Aquarium hosted S.T.E.A.M. Machines on the Pier—a day of fun and tinkering, art and innovation—all anchored by a Rube Goldberg machine contest. Thanks so much to our presenting sponsor, Time Warner Cable’s Connect A Million Minds Initiative, along with sponsor Bricks 4 Kidz. Thanks too to the Santa Monica Pier Corporation for their partnership in presenting this second annual event.

Congratulations to all the teams that participated in the Rube Goldberg machine contest: Santiago Canyon College; Cal Poly Pomona; Ánimo Venice Charter High School; Malibu High School; King Drew Magnet; Santa Monica High School; and Canyon High School.  Kudos to the four judges who donated their time and expertise to judge and offer feedback to the teams, including: designer Hector Alvarez; Adam Lichtl, director of research for Space Exploration Technologies; artist Brett Doar; and Betty Fekete of Time Warner Cable.

Thanks also to the vendors who spent the day demonstrating their amazing devices and giving visitors the opportunity to create, tinker and build: Dr. Sharp’s Steampunk Gear; Exploratory; iFlyPacific ParkPeddler’s CreameryreDiscover Center; Santa Monica High’s Team MarineSTEM Center USASteve CraigToyBuilder LabsTrash 4 TeachingTreePeople; and Vocademy the Makerspace.

And a special shout out to DJ Agent Blak, for keeping the stage lively and lyrical, along with Aquarium volunteer Jaclyn Friedlander and her team for building their own Rube Goldberg Machine to deliver a clean water message—and for demonstrating the contraption throughout the day. Check out the making of Friedlander’s machine!

Time Warner CableConnect a Million Minds Time Warner Cable

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

A huge thank you to Adventure Voyaging for including Heal the Bay in last month’s Catalina Cruisers Weekend – two days full of fun at Two Harbors. Additional thanks go out to Peter Ellis and friends who served up the famous “Buffalo Milk” beverages at Saturday night’s party, donating every drop these sailors drank back to clean water. These may have been some of the most delicious dollars we’ve received recently!

When a swimmer was bitten in July by a white shark struggling to be free of an angler’s hook next to the Manhattan Beach Pier, the city banned fishing from the pier to protect public safety. The ban was lifted at the end of the summer, but the unfortunate incident prompted coastal communities with piers throughout L.A. County to consider similar bans. As an alternative, Heal the Bay recommended the establishment of a pier and sport angler educational program, where on-the-pier ambassadors educate the fishing public about local sharks and marine life and how to avoid catching these sharks.

The cities of Santa Monica, Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach along with L.A. County embraced the shark ambassador program, and all have contributed to support it. Kudos to these partners, who are helping us educate anglers on the important role sharks play in the ecosystem.

Corporate Healers play an integral role in cleaning our beaches while encouraging stewardship among their employees – not to mention providing their workers with a day at the beach. Thanks to Wells Fargo and Macerich for joining the program.

Students from low-income schools will have the opportunity to visit our Santa Monica Pier Aquarium for field trips thanks to the support of the UPS Foundation. Thanks so much for sponsoring youth education.  

And last but not least, happy 5th anniversary to the The Grilled Cheese Truck – and thanks to this traveliing wagon of cheesy goodness for donating proceeds from its celebration to Heal the Bay.

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!   

Taking the time out to clean the beach is one of the most direct ways anyone can contribute to a healthy ocean. When businesses bring their employees together for a cleanup through Heal the Bay’s Corporate Healers program, they make an important statement about community responsibility and individual stewardship of the marine environment. We thank the following companies for becoming corporate healers this week: DIRECTV, Equity Residential and The Shore Hotel.

The Carrington family – Lisa, Russ, Alexa and Amber – this week hosted an evening at the California Yacht Club, giving Heal the Bay board members, staff and fellow supporters an opportunity to mix and mingle with water enthusiasts in the Marina and to chat about Marine Protected Areas in the Bay. Thanks to the Carringtons, Cal Yacht Club manager Michelle Underwood, and Coleen Cavan, the club’s catering manager, for providing Heal the Bay this opportunity to share news on the success of these zones. And thanks also to Golden Road Brewery for delivering a delicious beverage to accompany the delicious food, all with a stunning sunset backdrop. 

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!