There are about 200 exhibits at Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Designed to delight and educate visitors, the exhibits attract visitors of all ages. Here are a few photos from last month.
I shared the Sea Jelly Exhibit in a previous post, and enjoyed hearing from readers about their underwater and aquarium experiences.
The sea jellies were a popular exhibit, and so were the sea otters.
They have five otters: Abby, Ivy, Kit, Rosa, Selka. Each one arrived as a rescue animal, cannot survive in the wild. They have their own two-storied tank, and can be seen submerged, or frolicking above water.
Sea otters were heavily hunted for their fur in earlier centuries and remain an endangered species today. They have the densest fur of any animal.
You can see here how the outer layer of thick fur repels water, keeping the inner fur layer dry.
The Tentacles Exhibit had numerous tanks, artfully lit and emulating underwater scenes. Squid and cuttlefishes could be found here, along with octopuses, nautiluses and other tentacled creatures.
Visitors walk through dark rooms lit by tanks of colorful sea urchins, anemones, shrimp, crabs, clams and seahorses.
There are daily feedings, auditorium programs, behind-the-scene tours, and numerous videos offered throughout the facility. Some exhibits are interactive, visitors are invited to touch the creatures; while other exhibits are simply for observing. Free live cams entertain visitors from afar.
The largest exhibit, the Open Sea, features a giant tank with sea turtles, rays, giant tuna, all kinds of fish, and sardine swarms.
Many of the sea creatures are residents of California’s coast, but there are additional animals from other parts of the world as well.
Kelp is an algae seaweed that lives in cold, nutrient-dense waters and is prevalent along the west coast of North America. In California’s Monterey Bay area, where kelp is protected, large kelp canopies flourish, providing food and shelter to hundreds of species of birds and mammals.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium, in recognizing and promoting the ecological importance of kelp forests, features a permanent Kelp Forest Exhibit. Their 28-foot (8.5 m) exhibit hosts swaying fronds of kelp and millions of fish.
About 20 minutes south of the Monterey Bay Aquarium off Highway 1 is a splendid array of many of these same sea creatures in their natural habitats. The Monterey Bay sea canyon is deeper than the Grand Canyon.
A visit to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve yields protected tide pools, kelp forests, and marine mammals. Whenever I am in the Monterey area, I never miss a visit to Point Lobos. I’ll share this wonderland with you another time.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is a non-profit organization, and their research and advocacy is ongoing.
In today’s times when our planet’s seas are showing signs of deep distress, spending time and money exploring and supporting the health of the oceans is not only beneficial to future generations, but it is also great fun.
Written by Jet Eliot.
Photos by Athena Alexander.