Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
Open Ocean

Open Ocean

The vast open ocean and deep sea are home to delicate jellyfish, light-producing animals, and other organisms ranging from the beautiful to the bizarre.
  • Be sure to stop by the Sea Jelly Lab and see what's growing in this open husbandry lab. Students, volunteers and staff are often seen working on a variety of projects here. You might even be shown baby jellies on the microscope monitor.

  • Shapes, colors, and behavior of the fish in the Fish Diversity Tank reflect where and how these fish live.  See how sharks come in an amazing variety of sizes, shapes, and habitats and how some of the biggest sharks are gentle filter-feeders instead of ferocious predators.

  • The Channel Islands are major breeding grounds for many thousands of seabirds, seals and sea lions.  Feeding and nesting habitats are displayed.

  • Whales and dolphins, descended from land mammals, are the largest and most intelligent animals of the ocean.  The lives of these big mammals are examined in special exhibits on feeding, a video of various cetaceans, displays of whale and dolphin skeletons, and recordings of whale sounds.

Southern California Species

Basking Shark   Basking Shark   Arrow
Cetorhinus maximus

The basking shark is the second largest species of fish in the world.

Blue Whale   Blue Whale   Arrow
Balaenoptera musculus

The blue whale is the largest living animal.

Bottlenose Dolphin   Bottlenose Dolphin   Arrow
Tursiops truncatus

The bottlenose dolphin uses echolocation to find its prey.

Brown Pelican   Brown Pelican   Arrow
Pelecanus occidentalis

The brown pelican is the smallest of all pelicans and is the only one that plunges from the air into the water to catch its food.

California Sea Lion   California Sea Lion    Arrow
Zalophus californianus

Sea lions use their long front flippers to steer and propel themselves through the water.

Common Thresher Shark   Common Thresher Shark   Arrow
Alopias vulpinus

The common thresher shark uses its long tail in a whip-like fashion to deliver incapacitating blows to its prey.

Cooper of the Sea   Cooper of the Sea   Arrow
Phronima sedentaria

The eyes of this amphipod are so large that they make up nearly a quarter of the entire body.

Crystal Jelly   Crystal Jelly   Arrow
Aequorea victoria

Crystal jellies can expand their mouth to eat prey half their size!

Fin Whale   Fin Whale   Arrow
Balaenoptera physalus

The Fin whale is the second largest animal after the blue whale

Gray Whale   Gray Whale   Arrow
Eschrichtius robustus

The gray whale is a baleen whale.

Great White Shark   Great White Shark   Arrow
Carcharodon carcharias

The great white shark is capable of explosive bursts of speed and has been known to jump 3 meters (10 feet) out of the water.

Humpback Whale   Humpback Whale   Arrow
Megaptera novaeangliae

The humpback whale has distinct patterns on the tail flukes used to identify individuals.

Killer Whale   Killer Whale   Arrow
Orcinus orca

The killer whale, as known as the orca, is the largest dolphin.

Krill   Krill   Arrow
Thysanoessa spinifera

Krill are eaten by whales, seals, penguins, squid and fish.

Laysan Albatross   Laysan Albatross   Arrow
Phoebastria immutabilis

The wings of a laysan albatross are adapted to lock open into a wingspan of nearly seven feet.

Pacific Hake   Pacific Hake   Arrow
Merluccius productus

The Pacific hake can live up to 15 years.

Shortfin Mako Shark   Shortfin Mako Shark   Arrow
Isurus oxyrinchus

The shortfin mako shark is able to elevate its body temperature almost 20F above the surrounding water.

Sperm Whale   Sperm Whale   Arrow
Physeter macrocephalus

The sperm whale is the largest of the toothed whales and the largest toothed predator.

Western Gull   Western Gull   Arrow
Larus occidentalis

The Western gull typically lives about 15 years, but can live to at least 25 years.

Whale Barnacle   Whale Barnacle   Arrow
Cryptolepas rhachianecti

Whale barnacles live attached to the skin of whales.