Monterey Bay Aquarium
Monterey Bay Sightseeing and Top Attractions
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is the second largest aquarium in the world. An aquarium unlike any other. From sea otters ,sharks, jellies to seaweeds, the aquarium showcases world-class and breathtaking 200 exhibits, 80,000 plants and animals – a unique window to the wonders of the ocean.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is truly one of the most spectacular sites the Northern California has to offer visitors and residents alike. World-renowned as one of the best sea life museums in existence, a trip to Monterey without seeing the Aquarium is truly incomplete. Housing more than 35,000 plants and hundreds more animals, the Aquarium’s encyclopedic collection of natural wonders is the perfect teaching tool for students and adults alike.
The most exciting new addition to the aquarium’s collection is a more than 1-million-gallon tank part of an exhibit called the Outer Bay. This walk-in exhibit is the largest open-sea exhibit found in any aquarium in the world! Visitors walk into an under-sea oasis featuring one of the largest continuous circular pieces of glass ever created and are welcomed by a stunning vista of real Monterey Bay waters. Although the exhibit is
technically a tank, you would never know, as it is so large and so true-to-life in the under-sea world that it feels as if you have just walked right into the ocean (without getting wet of course!) Come face to face with real open-water animals living together in their natural environment like hammerhead sharks and the largest permanent collection of jellyfish in the United States. As of Summer 2007, the Outer Bay tank also has a new resident – a white shark! These beauties are often portrayed as terrible creatures in movies like Jaws, and indeed they can be quite dangerous, but the idea of being able to see one in its natural environment is to return its status to “animal” instead of “beast.” Hurry and make your trip to this magical place, however, because they can only keep the shark as long as he’s small enough to be transported back out to the wild later!
The 28-foot-tall Kelp Forest is also one of the most unique features of the aquarium. Mimicking the environment in the Monterey Bay, this enormous exhibit with a soaring glass wall allows you a window into animal life you may only get to see this once! The tank is home to thousands of animals and hundreds of species. Watch in amazement as schools of Rockfish swim by or as a playful Southern sea otter darts by the window. You will never see the same thing twice, so keep your eyes wide open!
One of the best parts about the Monterey Bay Aquarium is that there are plenty of interactive portions that accompany nearly every exhibit here. For instance, there is an enormous touch tank that allows you to (gently!) touch all of your favorite tide pool animals such as starfish and sea anemones. Just outside of the Kelp Forest, you can actually touch a piece of the giant kelp towers and a dozen or so other features of that enormous tank. Kids will love this chance to learn and explore the ocean’s depths! Who know, you may have a budding biologist!
But the Monterey Aquarium’s mission is deeper than to purely display the ocean’s natural wonders and educate visitors about them. Instead, the official mission of the aquarium is to “inspire conservation of the oceans.” It’s easy to see evidence of this throughout your visit to the Monterey Aquarium, as the exhibits often relate somehow to aquatic conservation while many of the employees in the more hands-on exhibits will offer advice on how to help preservation efforts of a particular species.
The aquarium is located in the famous Cannery Row area of Monterey, which means the facility also takes the time to acknowledge its roots. The area was once the hub of Monterey’s booming anchovy-fishing industry in the mid-20th century, and the aquarium itself sits inside what used to be a large sardine cannery. The area was prominently featured in California author John Steinbeck’s novel Cannery Row, which documented life in Monterey during that time. As
such, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has an exhibit of items belonging to the real-life marine biologist who lived directly next to the aquarium whose life and work were fictionalized by Steinbeck in his novel.