A fourth grade class at Pacific Elementary in Manhattan Beach spent some of their school day at the Roundhouse Aquarium Teaching Center earlier this week, and it was all because of one pupil’s creativity.
Trey Morris, 10, named the life-sized model great white shark outside of the Roundhouse at the end of the pier Manny, as part of a contest facilitated by Kinecta Federal Credit Union.
Coming up with the name was simple for Trey, whose idea was chosen from 40 submissions.
“Manhattan, Manny,” he said, describing his thought process. Manny was the first name he came up with, Trey said, and its simplicity held low expectations for him. “I felt kind of surprised because I didn’t think it would win.”
His friends were excited, or “hype,” as he put it, about the feat. Trey’s classmates reaped the benefits of winning as well. He and his peers trekked about a mile from Pacific Elementary on Monday, Principal Rhonda Steinberg said, for a couple hours of celebration, honor, ocean education and a pizza party.
The credit union sent an ice cream truck to Pacific later in the day to thank the entire school for participating in the shark naming contest.
Kinecta donated the funds for Manny as part of the Roundhouse’s 2018 revamp, said Latrice McGlothin, community engagement officer. After the renovation’s grand opening, Kinecta staff thought: “We should give the shark a name,” McGlothin said, “but then we started thinking about the students; we’re always trying to figure out ways that Kinecta can connect the students to education and make it fun.”
The faux great white was made by a Florida animal replica artist, John Roberts, Roundhouse board president, said.
“Manny is actually modeled on a genuine great white shark, right after it ate a meal of a seal, so he’s looking full,” Roberts said, adding that he believes Manny is the most photographed shark in the country.
Young great whites start to appear near the Manhattan Beach Pier, Roberts said, when spring and summer hits.
“Juvenile great white sharks tend to come into the shallow water because they like to eat stingrays,” Roberts said, “So when the water warms up, we see them quite often around the pier.” They also may be coming near the shore to safely escape the cannibalistic, adult great whites, he added.
“Sharks are a sign of a healthy ocean,” Roberts said, paraphrasing Sylvia Earle, a famous oceanographer. “They control the population of things that they prey on.”
As for Manny, he’s a sign that you’ve reached the Roundhouse.