Fern the Zebra Shark. Photos courtesy of the Aquarium of the Pacific.

By the Aquarium of the Pacific’s opening day on June 20, 1998, more than 30,000 households had purchased charter memberships; during its first day, 12,000 people (its maximum capacity) toured its exhibits.

On Wednesday, the aquarium will celebrate two decades of work in ocean conversation, education and community engagement, with much to look forward to, including the completion of its under-construction Pacific Visions wing, the first major expansion for the local institute.

“Over its 20-year history, the Aquarium has served as a community gathering place for people to learn about the ocean, its inhabitants, and each other so the public is better prepared to address the global societal and environmental issues we face, like climate change,” said aquarium President and CEO Jerry Schubel.

Here’s a list of five facts about the aquarium (courtesy of the aquarium):

The aquarium was the first to successfully breed Pharaoh’s cuttlefish in 1999 and weedy seadragons in 2001, adding to its list of achievements in the realm of animal husbandry. In 2016, it was also the first aquarium to hatch and raise a giant sea bass. Other industry firsts include reproducing zebra sharks through artificial insemination, drawing a voluntary blood sample from a sea otter and developing large-scale touch exhibits for moon jellies and sharks.

Edi and Edison, the massive blue whale models seen “floating” above aquarium visitors in the great hall, were designed and built by the Larson Company in Tucson, Arizona, and transported to Long Beach in seven pieces.

Today, 11,000 animals live at the aquarium and is the nation’s fourth most attended. During peak season, over 400 employees and a volunteer corps of over 1,600 run the popular destination.

The aquarium installed its first webcams around 2001 in three exhibits. Today, there are eight webcams, including a seasonal one that was just made live in the penguin nursery (check it out here) where you can watch Magellanic Penguin chicks generally being their cute, fluffy selves, flapping their wings and more at any given time of day from your phone or computer.

The aquarium offers a guide for citizens to build a more climate-resilient Long Beach, based on its collaborative effort with Southern California-based universities, regional and city government agencies to publish the City of Long Beach Climate Resiliency Assessment Report in December 2015. You can find the guide here.

Aquarium’s New Pacific Visions Wing Closer to Completion with Topping-Off Ceremony

20th Anniversary Events

Upcoming events in celebration of the anniversary include a Summer Discounted Late Night, where on the 20th anniversary guests can visit the aquarium on Wednesday for $14.95 per person after 5 p.m. More information on discounted summer nights can be found here.

The aquarium is also holding an #Act4Ocean contest to encourage people to take action for the ocean individually or as a group and post it on social media. Posts that tag the aquarium can win prizes each month throughout the summer. For more contest details and ocean-friendly inspiration, check out the link here.

A celebratory lecture, Twenty Years of Achievements in Animal Husbandry and Conservation, with Sandy Trautwein, will take place on Thursday, August 30 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. More details and ticket information can be found here.

Asia Morris is a Long Beach native covering arts and culture for the Long Beach Post. You can reach her @hugelandmass on Twitter and Instagram and at [email protected].