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Sandy Shore & Aviary

Investigate a world of mud flats and marshes rich with life, a place where long-legged birds ply the sands and flounders lie flat to keep from being found. Watch our birds forage for insects, just as they would in the wild, and gently touch the back of a bat ray as it skims along the bottom of our touch pool.

In this Exhibit

Red phalarope

Red and red-necked phalaropes share the same pond in our aviary. You can tell them apart by size and color. Red phalaropes are larger, with shorter, thicker bills and brighter colors. In breeding season, female red phalaropes sport distinctive chestnut-red bellies.

Western snowy plover

The western snowy plover is the smallest and whitest of the North American plovers. Unlike ringed plovers that have a dark neckband, a snowy plover wears just two black patches on its shoulders.

Bat ray

Bat rays swim gracefully by flapping their batlike wings (pectoral fins) bird style—a feature that gives these rays their common name and their family name, "eagle rays." They are found in muddy and sandy bottom bays, kelp forests and close to coral reefs.

Bay ghost shrimp

A resident of marine sloughs and bay flats on the west coast of North America, ghost shrimp burrow in seafloor sediments. These burrows protect the shrimps' soft, white bodies. But more important, as the shrimp wriggle along, they collect food from the sediments and from the water flowing through the burrows.

Leopard shark

Leopard sharks have a reputation for being docile toward people, says Manny Ezcurra, who has handled the Aquarium's leopard sharks since 1996. "But they're not so docile toward invertebrates and small fishes. We have to be careful about who we put in the exhibit with them," he says.

More Sandy Shore & Aviary Animals

Cool Facts

  • Abandoned western snowy plovers are often brought to the Aquarium for treatment. We also incubate eggs, and newly hatched chicks are raised by exhibit birds.
  • Our bat rays don't shock or sting, and you're welcome to touch them gently. Or, get a "bat-ray's view" by looking through our underwater periscope.
  • Mud is the ghost shrimp's favorite meal. It eats a bucketful of earth every few weeks, and you can see them in action in our exhibit.
  • A squishy sea hare can reach 10 pounds. They're named "hares" for their earlike appendages.

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