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Photo Exhibit 'Mexican Seas' At Birch Aquarium Merges Art, Science

Birch Aquarium ‘Mexican Seas’ Photo Exhibit Merges Art And Science

Birch Aquarium

Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily

Where: 2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla

Admission: Adults, $17; Teens (13-17), $14; Child (3-12), $12.50; Senior (60+), $13; UCSD student/staff w/ID, $11; College Student w/ID, $12; and Toddlers (2 and under), free. Active-duty U.S. military ID holders receive $2 off each ticket.

Some of the most diverse and magnificent marine life in the world is located in the waters off Mexico, and it's featured in a photo exhibit that opened Friday at Birch Aquarium. The photography and research merges art and science in an effort to inspire ocean stewardship.


Illegal hunting and habitat destruction have reduced populations of American crocodiles to critical levels in many areas. About 250 of them are now in a protected reserve off the Mexican coast.

Scripps ecologist and resident photographer Octavio Aburto is on a mission to show the public how conservation benefits not only from wildlife, but local communities and economies. He showed us a giant school of bigeye trevally fish swirling in a reproduction ritual. It's one of four areas he photographed off the waters of Mexico.

Other photos in the exhibit include one of orange cup coral, one of several species adorning the rocky reefs of Cabo Pulmo where fishing has been banned for more than a decade and sea life is thriving. Another photo shows a Munk's devil ray leaping out of the water during its courtship ritual. The Munk's devil ray is named after Dr. Walter Munk, a famous Scripps Oceanography researcher.

“With the amount of fish you can see here, it’s that this population hasn't been over fished,” Aburto said.

Aburto is part of the next generation of scientist trying to educate the public about the problem of exploiting our natural resources.


“It’s very important for people to understand that we need crocodiles for estuaries, sharks for reefs and they are not dangerous,” he said, adding it’s more dangerous not to have them around.

Aburto says it's not enough to publish research papers, he wants his images to connect with the public. His exhibit "Mexican Seas" takes us on a photographic journey and debuts this weekend at the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla.

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