LOS ANGELES — Passengers are few and the restaurants and bars have closed, but some Angelenos are still going about their everyday lives at Union Station.
Swimming, eating a bit, then swimming some more.
The skinny senorita fish, the sex-changing sheephead, the blue-gray blacksmith, schools of rockfish and a horn shark — they’re all going about their business in a 7,500-gallon aquarium at Union Station’s east portal entrance, their audience largely reduced to marine biologist Dan Gilboa, who comes every week to check on his underwater community.
“It’s eerie, no one is hanging out at all,” he said, “but I have enjoyed being underwater more than usual. I can really hear the bubbles, watch the fish swimming around. It’s a real escape from what’s going on in the outside world.”
The aquarium, marking its 25th year, is part of the installation “City of Dreams/River of History” by May Sun and Richard Wyatt, and its maintenance has been deemed essential business during the coronavirus crisis. Part of Metro’s extensive public art network, it brings a slice of California’s beloved coast right into downtown L.A.
Gilboa looks forward to the day when the coronavirus crisis is over and Angelenos and visitors passing through Union Station can see the horn shark, which has recovered in isolation and is about to be reintroduced into the exhibit.
“Kids especially are always just mesmerized by the fish,” Gilboa said with a smile, “and when they see me in there too, their eyes go wide. I can’t wait for that to happen again.”