Animal Encounters at the Living Coast Discovery Center
by Guest Blogger Casey Makovich, Smart Destinations
Head to the Living Coast Discovery Center to interact with and learn about the diverse wildlife native to San Diego’s coast. You’ll have a chance to see turtles face-to-face, touch sea rays, see large birds of prey up-close, and more.
Be sure to plan your day at the Living Coast around the interaction times at the different animal encounter stations to catch the animal feeding times and watch the trained staff give informative presentations about the animals, their habitats, and more.
Get up-close to the sea turtles, including the endangered Eastern Pacific green sea turtles, at the Turtle Lagoon. You’ll get a cool view of the animals as they swim past in the large underwater viewing areas.
Interaction time(s): 2:00 pm, daily to catch their feeding time and an informative presentation with the trained staff.
Shark and Ray Experience
Ever wanted to touch a stingray? Head to the touch pools at the Shark and Ray Experience and take your turn feeling the velvety backs of the rays as they glide around their pool.
Here you’ll also get to see four local species of sharks including leopard sharks, grey smoothhound sharks, horn sharks, and swell sharks, and some of their co-habitants, including shovel-nose guitarfishes, bat rays, round rays, diamond rays, colorful fish, and fan-favorite Sapphire the loggerhead sea turtle in their large, 21,000 gallon exhibit. Check out the multiple underwater viewing areas for some of the best views of the animals.
Interaction time(s): 11:00 am & 1:30 pm, daily to catch their feeding time and an informative presentation with the trained staff.
Bird-lovers will enjoy the chance to get up-close to lots of Southern California native birds in this large, walk-through Shorebird Aviary.
The peaceful tidal slough habitat is home to water and shorebirds, including light-footed clapper rails, snowy egrets, black-crowned night herons, black oyster catchers, , hooded, and more. See if you can hear the distinctively loud call of the black oystercatchers, identifiable by their black bodies and long, orange beaks used for prying oysters and limpets off rocks.
Eagle Mesa offers visitors the chance to come face-to-face with giant birds, including a bald eagle and a golden eagle. You’ll learn how these birds take flight and stalk and catch prey with their incredible eyesight.
Interaction time(s): 2:30 pm, daily to catch their feeding time and an informative presentation with the trained staff.
Discover native birds of prey in Raptor Row, including hawks, owls, osprey, and even vultures. Visitors will be able to get a close view of a red-tailed hawk, red-shouldered hawk, Cooper’s hawk, osprey, peregrine falcon, turkey vulture, barn owl, great-horned owl, burrowing owl, greater roadrunner, , and an American kestrel.
Learn about how all of the residents, including Mariah, a female American kestrel and Animal Ambassador at the LCDC, are non-releasable due to sustained injuries that have made them unable to survive on their own in nature. Despite their injuries, you’ll get to see how they’ve recovered and are thriving at the Living Coast Discovery Center today.
Native Plant Gardens
In addition to encounters with native animals, guests can get a look at the impressive botanical diversity that has adapted and thrived in the drought conditions of San Diego County. You’ll also get to see hummingbirds, butterflies, and other wildlife enjoying the gardens.
Composting workshop: Sundays, 1:00 pm-2:00 pm, learn how to responsibly compost.
VIP Guest Experiences
Book a private VIP Encounter and go behind-the-scenes to interact with some of the animals at LCDC. VIP Guest Experience options include feeding sea jellies, sharks and rays, endangered green sea turtles, up-close time with your choice of an owl species, or your choice of hawk, or an up-close interaction with your choice of two reptiles.
To book a Private VIP Experience: booking in advance is recommended to guarantee an experience. Each encounter is $50 for a group of up to 6 people. Please call the Education Department at (619) 409-5908 to make a reservation. Walk-in weekend visitors may be able to add a semi-private experience to their visit for $10 per person depending on availability.
Save on Admission to Top Attractions
Planning a trip to Southern California and want to visit some of the top attractions near San Diego? You can save up to 55% on combined admission compared to purchasing individual tickets to the Living Coast Discovery Center and more with a Go San Diego Card.