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A Grandfather’s Wish to Share the Sea

It was a family tradition. Every summer, Karana and Aurora Stokum would fly to San Diego to visit their grandfather, Eugene Swantz, who would treat them to an afternoon at Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. They would delight in the chance to meet the sea cucumbers at the tide pools, and watch the stately seahorses sashay through their tanks.

Swantz’s gift—a contribution of nearly $48,000 bestowed through his trust to the newly established education endowment, Price Philanthropies Ocean Science Education Fund—will help advance the educational outreach efforts of Birch Aquarium.

Through discovery labs and beach expeditions, young visitors to Birch Aquarium get to explore how sea creatures feel, move and behave in different habitats, from kelp beds to sandy shores and tide pools. And with specially equipped vans, more than 400 classes in underserved schools across the county have a chance to interact with fish and other critters, learning about topics like biodiversity, adaptation and anatomy.

“As the public exploration center for the world-renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Birch Aquarium provides unique learning opportunities by engaging visitors directly with marine life,” said Harry Helling, director of Birch Aquarium. “Private support, including generous gifts from loyal members like Mr. Swantz, is key to achieving our mission of wide-reaching ocean science education.”