Thursday, July 12, 2012

Monterey Bay Aquarium Review

I recently took a trip to the west coast and had amazing opportunity to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Where is Monterey Bay? Monterey, California is located about a two hour drive south from the city of San Francisco. The aquarium was founded in 1984 on the site of the former Monterey Bay canners sardine factory (remnants of which are displayed inside).

One of the best features of the Monterey Bay Aquarium that makes it so special is its location: right on the shore of Monterey Bay itself. In fact, fresh ocean water is actually continuously pumped into the aquarium. During the day this water is filtered to make viewing easier for guests but at night the ocean water is pumped in as is. How cool is that? Many  types of wildlife can be viewed from the many decks overlooking the bay, including sea otters, seals, star fish, whales, sea birds, and more.

The Kelp Forest exhibit is quite impressive. There is a surge machine at the top of the tank which helps keep the kelp in the constant motion they require. Kelp can grow up to four inches in one day so divers are often seen keeping it nicely trimmed.

My jaw dropped when we entered one room where there is a circular tank above your head containing thousands of fish constantly circling around you.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium was also the first aquarium in the world to successfully keep a great white shark on exhibit. A great white was displayed in the Open Seas tank for 198 days before being released after it bit and killed two other fish.

Also please note, the Monterey Bay Aquarium parking situation is a bit different from what you would expect of a large tourist attraction. There is no parking lot associated with the property. Instead, you will probably have to park in one of several parking garages down Cannery Row Street and walk the short distance to the Monterey Bay acquarium. But the town is very nice and there are lots of neat shops and restaurants along the way, including the Monterey Bay canners.

The main attraction for the Monterey Aquarium is the Sea Otters, but I haven’t mentioned them here because I am going to devote an entire future post just for them, so stay tuned.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium hours are currently:

Regular hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Summer and holidays: 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m.
Summer weekends: 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m.

Pictured below is a scanned copy of the Monterey Bay Aquarium map.