The Animal Research and Care Center, commonly known as the ARCC, is located in nearby Marina. While the building isn't open to the public, it's playing a critical role in housing some of the majestic open-ocean animals that you'll see starting in July. That's when we open our Open Sea galleries—the replacement for the Outer Bay—which will be home to mola molas, sharks, sea turtles, pelagic rays and many other of your favorite species.
The ARCC may be understated on the outside, but it's bustling with activity inside. Hammerhead sharks carve graceful turns in the biggest, 60 x 40-foot oval tank, along with bluefin tuna and pelagic rays. In the next, 40-foot tank, two enormous green sea turtles swim lazily about in anticipation of the next head of lettuce that will come their way, along with barracuda. The tank also includes yellowfin tuna and bonito. The final tank, measuring 30 feet, includes smaller hammerheads and a sandbar shark.
This Water is Carefully Watched
Along one wall of the ARCC, there's a food preparation room that would rival any restaurant kitchen, with industrial refrigerators and gleaming, stainless steel countertops. Next door, a complete animal health lab is nearing completion.
Enormous filters, underground storage basins and miles of plumbing help ensure that the water is kept at a perfect salinity, pH, temperature and cleanliness for the sensitive animals that live there, according to Scott Greenwald, associate curator of animal holding.
There are enough computers, wiring and technical wizardry to rival the Starship Enterprise. "We have a main computer that logs data 24 hours per day on what the systems are doing and how well they're performing," says Scott. And everything about the building is done in as "green" a manner as possible, from water use to energy needs. All told, it takes half a dozen staff to keep the facility operating and the animals fed and cared for.
One by One and Two by Two
As the Open Sea exhibit nears completion, animals continuously arrive at the ARCC, as well as at the Tuna Research and Conservation Center (TRCC) next to the Aquarium, and behind the scenes at the Aquarium itself. Most of these species are collected by the Aquarium's husbandry staff. The TRCC is home to the five-foot mola mola that was on exhibit back in 2009, along with dolphinfish and additional tuna.
All these animals will be featured in the new, upgraded million-gallon exhibit, along with one of the largest Pacific sardine collections we've ever had. And, of course, if all goes well, we'll have a white shark on exhibit this fall for the first time since November, 2009.