Taylor Lawsen 18, an english major at Biola University, pets a sting ray at college night at Aquarium of the Pacific Friday, March 3 in Long Beach, CA.

Story and photo by Presley Swearingen/Viking/Staff/@pres711

The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach hosted college night offering discounted admission after 5 p.m. with college I.D on Friday, March 3.

Students from Southern California turned out for the event.  From sharks to jellyfish, the Aquarium has a wide range of exhibits and sea creatures to check out.

One animal that received a lot of attention from visitors were the sea otters.

David Crowther, 25, a creative writing major from Cal State Long Beach, said, “I love the otter exhibit I like to see their interactions between each other.”

According to the Aquarium of the Pacific’s visitor guide, otters are one of the smallest sea mammals and since they don’t have blubber, they have to eat 25 to 30 percent of their body weight each day to stay warm.  The otter population was nearly wiped out due to hunting in the early 1900s. California’s sea otter population has  greatly increased since then, but still faces threats due to pollution.

Dianne Blackwood, 18, a biology major from UCLA, said, “I love the Aquarium because I love seeing how the ocean works. It’s crazy to see ocean life, because it’s not something you see every day.”

The Aquarium has a number of interactive exhibits. Outside they have a touch tank with stingrays and small sharks. Inside they have one with sea stars and other creatures visitors would find along a reef.

Taylor Lawsen, 18, an English major from Biola University, said, “My favorite part of the Aquarium is getting to touch the stingrays.”

Another interactive exhibit the Aquarium offers is getting to touch the prehistoric looking horseshoe crab. According to the Aquarium of the Pacific’s visitor guide, the crabs play an important role in human health care. A substance extracted from the crab’s blood is used to test vaccines, drugs and medical devices for bacterial contamination, if bacteria are found in clot form.

Jamison Diep, 19, a biology major from U.C. Riverside said, “I’m excited because it’s my first time here, so far my favorite part about the Aquarium is that they promote conservation efforts and I feel it’s very important to try to help the environment.”

The Aquarium houses bird exhibits, including an interactive Lorikeet forest and penguins. The visitor guide describes how Magellanic penguins are native to South America, some come from zoos or aquariums while others are rescued from being stranded outside their natural habitat.

A fundraising campaign is underway for the Aquarium to expand and offer more space for exhibits, a theater, art exhibits and place for performances.

The Aquarium suggests to help endangered species and prevent animal extinction because it’s important for humans to learn about the threatened species in the area.