Community Spotlight: Manhattan Beach's Roundhouse Aquarium
The Roundhouse Marine Studies Lab and Aquarium is a non-profit focused on teaching visitors about marine life, the environment and our oceans. Situated at the end of the Manhattan Beach Pier, its prime location has allowed it to serve as a staple in the city.
We sat down with Valerie Hill, Administrative Director & Educational Co-Director, to learn more about the aquarium and its services.
Q: How long have you been working at the aquarium?
A: “I’ve bee with the aquarium for 10 years now. “
Q: Wow. How’d you initially hear about the aquarium?
A: “I first started as a volunteer while I was in college. I’ve been with them ever since.”
Q: What’s the most important benefit of the aquarium?
A: “I think the fact that it’s free and open to the public. People aren’t restricted by cost or time because they can spend as must time here as they’d want.”
Q: What do you love most about working at the aquarium?
A: “I love our staff and other volunteers. It’s a good group of people, both paid and unpaid. Can’t beat the view, who else can say they have the view we do? I also love the animals and teaching people about new things every day.”
Q: What’s the funniest story you can remember about your students?
A: “When kids come into the aquarium for their field trips, we have them hold the live animals. Sea stars, sea cucumbers, etc. One kid from each class gets to kiss the sea cucumber for seven years of good look. That’s the most entertaining part because of the different reactions we get from the kids. Sometimes the cucumber spits out water on them. It’s a pretty funny and entertaining experience for all of us.”
Q: What’s one thing you’d want most people to know about the aquarium?
A: “Most people think we’re funded by the city of Manhattan Beach but it’s important to know that we’re a non-profit. We survive solely by the donations of our supporters. The $5 donations families leave behind or the year end donations we receive are what help keep us running.”
You can donate to the Round House Aquarium on their website.
About the Aquarium
The aquarium is open to the public with a suggested donation of $2 per person or $5 for the entire family. They’re open Monday through Friday 3pm-sunset and Saturday through Sunday 10am-sunset.
There are classes offered for kids of all ages with the programs including aquarium exploration, beach exploration, animal interaction and several others. They also have a great Summer Camp program that’s set up every year. Kids over the age of 14 can sign up to be Junior Camp Counselors for the program.
Sea Jelly January is going on all month at the aquarium. They have tanks of moon jellies that are set up for visitors to view. They also have free Sea Story time every Sunday in January at 11:30am for the kids. They’ll be reading books about jellies, anemones and other stinging animals of the sea.