Little girl watching penguins swim in the Splash Zone Exhibit

Discover a place where families can explore the ocean together. With over 45 interactive exhibits in English and Spanish, you can dive into a kelp forest, visit a coral reef kingdom or explore a rocky shore. Rockfish, sharks and penguins call these places home. Meet them in their magical worlds.



In this Exhibit

African blackfooted penguin

Not all penguins live in snow and ice—African blackfooted penguins live in cold currents along the coast of South Africa. With streamlined bodies and waterproof feathers, these ocean birds are agile and graceful under water. Using their wings as flippers and their feet as rudders, they "fly" through the water fast enough to chase down squid, schools of cape anchovy and other small fishes.

Meet our penguins (PDF)

Hermit crab

Hermit crabs wear shells to protect their soft abdomens—which are asymmetrical and curved to fit the spiral shape of their shells. Like all crabs, hermit crabs are decapods—they have five pairs of legs, including a pair of claws. One claw is much larger than the other; the hermit crab uses it for defense and food shredding. The smaller claw is used for eating. The second and third pairs of legs help the crabs walk, and the last two pairs hold the crabs in their shells.

Zebra moray

These striped eels make their homes in narrow coral caves. They hide all day then swim out at night to hunt along the cracks and crevices of the reef, using their sense of smell to find prey. These eels eat mostly crabs, mollusks and spiky sea urchins. They have tough mouths and strong jaws. Their flat, platelike teeth are perfect for crunching and crushing hard shells.

Swell shark

When threatened, this shark swallows sea water, puffing up to twice its normal size. This behavior makes it difficult for a predator to bite or evict a swell shark from its rocky crevice. To catch dinner, a swell shark simply lies on the ocean floor with its mouth open wide. As fishes or crustaceans pass by, the shark sucks them up. Sometimes, the shark just lies still, letting prey wander into its mouth or get swept in by ocean currents.

Anemonefish

Anemonefish, also called clownfish, live nestled among the tentacles of stinging anemones. Most fishes are paralyzed by the sting of an anemone, but clownfish are covered in a special layer of mucus that protects them. All clownfish start life as males. As they grow, some turn into females.

Giant green anemone

This green plantlike creature is actually an animal with algae plants living inside it. In this symbiotic relationship, the algae gain protection from snails and other grazers and don't have to compete for living space, while the anemones gain extra nourishment from the algae in their guts. Contrary to popular opinion, this anemone's green color is produced by the animal itself, not the algae that it eats. 


More Splash Zone Animals


Cool Facts

  • When penguins flap their wings or bow their heads, they're telling each other how they feel. Throwing their heads back and wings out means "I'm happy," while leaning forward and opening their beaks means "Go away."
  • Pharaoh cuttlefish can shoot clouds of ink for protection. Long ago, this dark-brown ink, called sepia, was used for writing and drawing.
  • Zebra morays don't have scales. Instead, the bodies of these snakelike fish are covered with a slimy coating of mucus that protects them.
  • Slow-growing rockfish live a long time—some in the Gulf of Alaska are over 200 years old. That means a rockfish that's swimming the seas today might have been alive during the Civil War.

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