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Forum to Feature Aquarium Founders

Jul 14, 2018 09:08AM ● By Jeanne Fratello

The Manhattan Beach Pier and Roundhouse Aquarium - Photo via City of Manhattan Beach

By Lynne Gross

How did Manhattan Beach's acclaimed Roundhouse Marine Studies Lab and Aquarium come about? The popular beachfront attraction and educational center can trace its roots back to a few forward-thinking community members. 

On Tuesday, July 24, those founding members of the aquarium will appear at a free community forum to talk about the challenges and rewards of setting up a tiny marine studies program - and about the Roundhouse's past, present, and future. The presentation will take place from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. at the Manhattan Beach Library.

In the 1970s, a confluence of circumstances brought together six people who had the idea of creating a place for children to learn about the ocean and its inhabitants in what was then an unsavory, abandoned building at the end of the Manhattan Beach Pier. They had many hurdles to overcome, including scraping dead fish off the floor, but they were a dedicated, persistent group, and in 1979 they established a Marine Studies Lab at the end of the pier.

The facility has been operated for the past 39 years by Oceanographic Teaching Stations, a non-profit board that these six founders established.

The Community Forum participants will be:

  • Evelyn Hannah Rowland, a Grand View teacher who was president of the first board
  • Lindell Marsh, an environmental lawyer who was vice president of the first board
  • Dick Fruin, the first secretary-treasurer and a judge who is a member of the current board
  • Cheryl Marsh, a speech therapist who was a member of the first board
  • Wendy Gault, the first executive director (hired employee) of the Marine Studies Lab
  • Roger Gedminas, a member of the Squid Squad, a group of middle school volunteers
  • John Roberts, current president of the board who will update the present construction project
  • Lynne Gross, immediate past oresident of the board, who will moderate the discussion

(The other two founders, Bemi DeBus and Rimmon Fay, are deceased.)

The event will be hosted by the Manhattan Beach Senior Citizens Resources Committee, the County of Los Angeles Manhattan Beach Library, the Roundhouse Aquarium, Manhattan Beach Pioneers, Manhattan Beach Parks & Recreation, Manhattan Beach Conservancy, and the Manhattan Beach Historical Society.

It is the seventh in a series of monthly meetings about significant local events. The event is free, and all are welcome. Light refreshments will be served, compliments of Friends of the Manhattan Beach Library.

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