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Creeping Around the Science Center During the
"Creature Feature" Virtual Tour

Nucleus Image - Creature Feature Member virtual tour ecosystems

On Halloween, the California Science Center was thrilled to host our Member families live on Zoom for a spooktacular “Creature Feature” virtual tour of our Ecosystems galleries. Ecosystems houses many of the 290 different species of animals found at the Science Center. The tour was guided by Curator of Life Sciences, Dr. Chuck Kopczak (dressed as a pirate) and Director of Husbandry, Misha Body (wearing a lion costume), with guest appearances by some of our animal care staff and divers.

Members saw a variety of creatures and critters throughout the tour and observed some spooky animal behaviors. One of these creatures was the giant sea bass in our Kelp Forest tank, which definitely lives up to its name. According to Dr. Chuck, giant sea bass are the largest fish commonly found in kelp forests in Southern California. They live to be about 75 years old and can weigh up to 650 pounds!

The Nucleus - Ecosystems Kelp forest fish - black sea bass

Giant sea bass

Other creature sightings included a leopard shark, which has its mouth on the underside of its snout, helping it to feed on prey in muddy bottoms. These bottom feeders help keep our tank clean by consuming dead or weak fish. Dr. Chuck noted that although sharks are fearsome animals, the vast majority of them pose no danger to human beings.

Members spotted a variety of intriguing critters who make up the complex food web in the kelp forest ecosystem. Misha highlighted the predatory sarcastic fringehead, a favorite among our guests, and detritivore Kellet’s whelks, which use a proboscis, a long tube that extends out from their shell, to feed on dead or dying animals.

One of the more fascinating creatures that inspired many astute questions among our younger Members on the virtual tour was the red octopus. This intelligent animal lacks a spine and shell and has special cells all over its body called chromatophores, allowing it to change the color and texture of its skin to hide from predators—making it a master of disguise according to Misha.

The Nucleus - Santa Barbara Island sea star bat

Sea stars

In our Touch Tank, Members were treated to sightings of various sea stars differing in texture and color. Dr. Chuck highlighted bat stars which come in a variety of colors and specialize in eating dead animals. They have small tube-like feet to help them move around and webbing between their short triangular arms. Interestingly, their mouths are located on their underside and they can expand their stomach out through their mouth when they find food.

To help keep the animals healthy in our Ecosystems galleries, we use special equipment such as pumps and filters to keep the Kelp Forest tank clean. Our divers have various methods to feed fish, including using unique markings on fish to identify them for special diets and target feeding in small groups. Although kelp grows in our tank, divers also collect kelp from the ocean every three weeks to transplant it into the tank. This kelp helps feed and provides shelter for many of our animals as well.

The interest and engagement in the virtual tour from our Member families was a real Halloween treat, and we received many comments telling us how much they enjoyed the program.

"I certainly learned a great deal and enjoyed every minute."Science Center Member

"I really liked the octopuses and starfish, they were very interesting and I liked the sharks and eels, they were cool." Young Science Center Member

"It was great. I'm a single adult and realize that this was more of a family, even children's event but it was still very interesting and engaging." Science Center Member

Thank you again to everyone who participated in the  “Creature Feature” virtual tour. We look forward to seeing more of our Members, friends and supporters at future opportunities to experience the California Science Center’s mission of science learning for everyone, even while our doors are closed.

Download the latest issue

Download more issues of The Nucleus

October 23, 2020 issue featuring Ecosystems Virtually Open for Creature Feature Program on Halloween

October 9, 2020 issue featuring How the California Science Center is Preparing to Reopen Safely When Permitted

September 23, 2020 issue featuring How Science Can Build A Better Future — Interview with Ann Druyan

September 9, 2020 issue featuring "Ready for Liftoff" Virtual Member Programs

August 26, 2020 issue featuring EcoExplorations – Scamper, Slide and Soar on By

August 7, 2020 issue featuring EcoExplorations – Let's Dive In

July 23, 2020 issue featuring Get to Know Aerospace Curator Ken Phillips, PhD

July 8, 2020 issue featuring Ever Wonder Who Writes What You Read in Exhibits?

June 25, 2020 issue featuring Ever Wonder Who Decides What an Exhibit is About?

June 12, 2020 issue featuring Virtual Catalina

June 5, 2020 issue featuring Revisit Your Favorite Feature

May 29, 2020 issue featuring the Stuck at Home Science Team!

May 21, 2020 issue featuring Dr. Perry Roth-Johnson, Assistant Curator for Aerospace Science

May 13, 2020 issue featuring Evelyn Serrano, Assistant Manager of Science Live! Programs

May 7, 2020 issue featuring Dr. Liz Roth-Johnson, Curator of Life Sciences

April 29, 2020 issue featuring Reggie Williams, Community Coordinator

April 24, 2020 issue featuring Misha Body, Director of Husbandry

April 15, 2020 issue featuring Devin Waller, Exhibit Project Manager

April 9, 2020 issue featuring Monica Barajas, School Programs Coordinator

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