Something huge is happening at Birch Aquarium in La Jolla this summer — but really, it’s quite teeny. How teeny? Well, just 12 inches tall and 2-3 pounds each.
The Beyster Family Little Blue Penguins habitat is opening in July, becoming the only aquarium in the Western US to house the smallest species of penguin.
🐧 Tell me about these adorable seabirds:
Little Blues are tiny in stature but big in personality. Birch Aquarium says they’re known for their blue color + social nature — and their mesmerizing “torpedo swimming” where they accelerate by releasing air bubbles. The species is native to the coastal dunes and rocky shores of Southern Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand.
There are six Little Blues currently living behind-the-scenes at Birch Aquarium and 10 more are set to arrive soon from Australian zoos.
🏗️ Tell me about their space at Birch Aquarium:
The 2,900-sqft habitat is being built in the Nigella Hillgarth Education Courtyard. It’s named in honor of a $1 million gift from the Beyster Family — longtime supporters of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography + Birch Aquarium.
- An 18,000-gallon pool (crews started digging this last month) where visitors can see the penguins socializing.
- A small amphitheater for visitors to watch the birds swimming.
- A “discovery cave” for kids to closely watch Little Blues inside nesting burrows + on the rocky, sandy shoreline.
Birch Aquarium hopes the habitat helps in ongoing conservation efforts of the species and teaches visitors about the challenges the seabirds face in the wild.
🌊 When can I see the Little Blues?
📍 2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla
🕘 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily