San Diego California

Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography

2300 Expedition Way

La Jolla, CA 92037

Birch Aquarium is a highly regarded aquarium and educational center at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.  Their mission is to showcase Scripps research, promote ocean conservation and provide education on ocean science.

Quick Facts:

  • The aquarium exhibits 380 species, and over 3,000 animals in total

  • The facility attracts nearly a half million visitors a year

  • Educational programs draw about 40,000 school children each year

  • General admission is $19.50 for adults, $15.00 for children

  • Annual memberships start at $45 per year

  • Scripps Aquarium is fully accredited by the AZA.  

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography campus sits atop a hill and allows sweeping views of the coastline and the ocean. The aquarium is a must see for your San Diego vacation.

Established in 1903 by the Marine Biological Association of San Diego, it was intended to be the public face of a marine research effort taking place in the ocean waters off the coast of San Diego.

Originally housed in a boathouse at the Hotel del Coronado, the aquarium quickly outgrew the facility and moved to La Jolla Cove in 1905. The association eventually acquired 174 acres at a city public auction and built their campus at La Jolla Shores. The Old Scripps Building, a national historic site, was built in 1910 and was the first permanent structure on the site.

Original buildings included both labs and exhibits, but in 1915, the association built their first facility devoted solely to exhibits.  

The original aquarium was a building with 19 tanks that ranged in capacity from 96 to 228 gallons. A oceanographic museum was in an adjacent structure.

In 1925, the Marine Biological Society of San Diego became the Scripps Institution of Oceanography to recognize Ellen Browning Scripps and E.W. Scripps (important donors from the Scripps newspaper fortune) and to highlight the expanding role of the institute.