If during a visit to Monterey Bay you see nothing else and have time to check out only one attraction, make it a trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Located in the heart of Monterey's Cannery Row, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has been educating, inspiring and bringing to the public intimate breath taking displays of marine life that leave visitors with a new and profound appreciation for the eco system that live in the Pacific Ocean off the California Coast.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is housed in a building that once was a cannery along Cannery Row, that like all the rest of the canneries went under. In 1984 the building was completely gutted and refurbished and opened as the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Since 1984 millions of people have visited this wonder that is perched on the south shore of Monterey Bay. Over the years the Monterey Bay Aquarium has grown in size. The purpose of displaying marine life for the public's pleasure is just one small operation of the aquarium. The aquarium employs an army of naturalists and marine specialists that are in constant research of the waters adjacent to the aquarium and use their discoveries at the aquarium for conservation efforts around the world.
Visitors should plan a minimum of two hours at the Monterey Bay Aquarium,
The Kelp Forest Exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
however it is recommended to do at least 4-6. With over a dozen exhibits, each with its own character and personality it is impossible just to glance them over and move on. Each exhibit contains a variety of marine animals that are indigenous to the waters of Monterey Bay and Pacific Ocean. These animals include sharks, dozens of types of rock fish, plant life, bird life, invertebrates and more. Through out the aquarium low, new age music plays brings a sense of calm, wonder and relaxation to its visitors.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is home to a variety of exhibits that bring awe and excitement. The Kelp Forest is one of the original exhibits and features a tank that extends almost three stories. Visible on the ground floor and by a second floor balcony, the kelp forest features hundreds of varieties of sea life. However its most stunning attribute are the forest of kelp that grow at an astounding rate of 6 inches per day and tower like sky scrapers in the tank while its top tickles the surface of the water.
The Open Sea exhibit just completed a major over haul and like the kelp forest towers up to three stories and is viewable from two different levels. Giant green sea turtles and hammerhead sharks can be seen swimming up close and personal. In 2011 it was the Open Sea exhibit that the great white shark was housed that was found off the coast of California (but has since been released).
In addition to the stunning exhibits, there a variety of interactive exhibits that allow visitors of all age (but the children love them the most) to interact with the wildlife. These include petting pools where you can extend your hands into a pool and touch a passing sting ray or roll up your sleeps and deep your hand into mini tide pool and see what a starfish feels like.
Visitors to the Monterey Bay Aquarium interested in the operations at a deeper level can check at the front for information on joining a private tour of the aquarium. For an added fee the tours include just a small group of people with an aquarium staff member as they go on private feeding expeditions and see parts of the aquarium that are not available to the general public.