It's with a heavy heart that I am writing with news that due to the unprecedented loss of all revenue from both school field trips and the busy spring break tourism season---and without assurance that we will be open for business by the summer---the Central Coast Aquarium (CCA) will go into a Temporary System Shutdown on April 16 as the result of ongoing closures due to the coronavirus. It is our hope to reserve our resources now for an eventual reopening. It’s not possible to predict when that reopening will occur.
What is a Temporary System Shutdown? All animal care life support systems and animal exhibits will be shut down entirely and secured for a future reopening. With care and attention, we released many of our animals back to the wild as permitted by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW). All the remaining animals that could not be released to the wild were adopted by Cabrillo High School Aquarium in Lompoc. We are grateful for the partnerships with DFW and Cabrillo High School who worked with us to ensure that the release or adoption of all of CCA’s animals was properly and ethically managed.
However, it's important to note that, as an entity, the Central Coast Aquarium (501c3) is not dissolving! This is planned to be a temporary shutdown with the intention of reopening when the crisis of the coronavirus passes.
CCA had our most successful year ever in 2019 and we were already ahead of 2019 numbers in January, February, and half of March of 2020. Yet, even with a fantastic year in 2019, our margins for operating as a nonprofit aquarium and marine science education center are very tight.
Also, while it doesn't always help to hear this when we are losing things in our own lives, in our hearts we know there are those who are in critical need right now in our community and it's correct for philanthropy to be given to those nonprofits first: food banks, domestic violence and child abuse services, medical supplies for first responders/health care workers, to name a few. There may be economic development funds that can help CCA reopen and we’ve applied for many of those funds -- but it's simply too early to know exactly what support we will receive.
We are extremely grateful to have an amazing, dedicated group of staff and volunteers that help us meet our mission to cultivate a community dedicated to ocean stewardship through education, engagement, and action. We eagerly await the moment this all passes and we can reach out to you again with the good news of our plans to reopen and asking you for your support at that time.
Christine Johnson, Executive Director