I’ve been to many aquariums over the years including some of the larger ones like Sea World and the one in Disney’s Epcot, so it takes a little bit more to impress me. The aquarium in Monterey California was definitely worth a visit and, with almost 2 million visitors per year, a great deal of other people obviously feel the same way.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is located on the north side of the Monterey peninsula along Cannery Row. It sits on the site of the former Hovden Cannery, a sardine cannery that was built in 1916 but was demolished in 1980 after closing many years before when the sardine fishing industry collapsed.
If you like sea creatures of any kind, this is the place for you. The aquarium consists of two floors of aquatic life. Along with the many types of large and small fishes, there are lots of other types of sea life to be found here.
They have whole rooms dedicated to things with tentacles (squid, octopus, cuttlefish, etc.)
and all types of jellyfish.
They have a large tank called The Open Sea with various kinds of sharks, sea turtles, sunfish, tuna, dolphin fish, stingrays, and 15,000 sardines that move as one impressive shiny unit when it’s feeding time.
There are sea horses, starfish, sea anemones, sand dollars, clams, coral, eels, shrimp, lobsters, and crabs.
There are sea otters, penguins, and puffins. They even have a room called the aviary that has sea birds in it. An aquarium with this many birds is not too common.
They have a couple touching pools where you can touch and hold things like starfish, crabs and hermit crabs, various kinds of kelp, sea cucumbers, and bat rays.
Part of the aquarium is outside on the many balconies with viewing stations overlooking the ocean where you might just see a seal or dolphin out in the wild.
One thing that’s not to be missed is feeding time. Over the course of the day they have feedings of penguins, sea otters, The Open Sea tank, and The Kelp Forest where you can watch them feed the sea animals and learn a little bit about them too.
There are numerous educational exhibits all over the aquarium for kids on fieldtrips, and adults too, to play with and learn about the ocean. They have several educational 15-minute programs in the auditorium throughout the day that discuss everything from sharks to sea otters. You can even sign up for a behind-the-scenes tour of the aquarium.
There’s even an exhibit dedicated to the history of the cannery that used to sit on the aquarium’s site.
Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to take decent pictures of the sea life, especially the fish, which don’t sit still for very long. You can’t use your flash to freeze the motion since everything is behind glass and so the flash would just reflect back at you. Also, most of the exhibits are in very dark rooms so you can see the animals better, but this causes longer exposure times for your camera, adding to the problem. I took lots of pictures but probably 1/3 of them didn’t come out, and the ones that did still aren’t in perfectly sharp focus. But still worth the effort.
For more information: www.montereybayaquarium.org
All images copyright © 2014 Eric T. Christensen