Santa Monica Lookout
|Record Attendance for Heal the Bay's Santa Monica Pier Aquarium Grand Reopening|
By Jason Islas
January 21, 2014 -- A record number of visitors turned out to celebrate the grand reopening of Heal the Bay's Dorthy Green classroom at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium Saturday.
More than 2,100 visitors stopped by over the course of the celebration, sponsored by Cirque du Soliel, to see the revamped classroom, named for Heal the Bay's founder, Dorthy Green.
“The Aquarium's additions to the classroom highlight the importance of the Santa Monica Mountains watershed and the impacts we have on it,” said Aquarium Director Heather Doyle.
Doyle said that the remodeled classroom offers “several new interactive exhibits and two new tanks.”
And, she said, the new classroom also pays homage the Santa Monica-based nonprofit's founder, whose son and granddaughter cut the ribbon on the new classroom Saturday.
They were joined Saturday by other community leaders, including Councilmember Tony Vazquez and Katherine King, the concert promoter responsible for Santa Monica's popular Twilight Dance Series.
Heal the Bay is working with Cirque du Soliel, currently preparing to launch its new show, TOTEM, under the big top in the parking lot next to the Pier, for a “multi-layered, community” partnership that included free admission to the Aquarium Saturday.
Throughout February, Cirque du Soliel will provide free admission to the Aquarium on Fridays. The international entertainment company will also pay for five groups of students from “low-income schools” to take field trips to the Aquarium.
“Students who benefit from the classes funded through Cirque du Soleil come from low-income, disadvantaged neighborhoods,” Aquarium officials said. “(M)ost live only miles from the ocean (and) will have their first experience with the beach environment and marine life.”
The program, Heal the Bay hopes, will encourage a new generation of people sensitive to their impact on the bay's ecosystem.
“Visitors become better stewards of the ocean by seeing and interacting with the animals that live in the Santa Monica Bay first-hand,” said Aquarium officials.
“With the new Dorothy Green classroom, Heal the Bay's Santa Monica Pier Aquarium is now a holistic educational resource, helping visitors learn about water -- our most valuable resource from the mountain tops to the ocean depths and how we can help keep it clean,” Doyle said.
The revamped classroom is just one facet of Heal the Bay's nearly 30-year mission to “make Southern California coastal waters and watersheds... safe, healthy and clean.”
The nonprofit organizes beach cleanup days, including the annual Statewide Coastal Day, and lends its support to legislation to stem the impact from urban runoff on the ocean, like the recent ban on single-use plastic bags in Los Angeles.
Heal the Bay also issues an annual in-depth analysis of the beaches in California, grading them on an A to F scale based on bacteria levels.
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