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Visit The Monterey Bay Aquarium

Updated on August 27, 2016
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ReadMikeNow is a freelance writer who loves to travel. He likes to find unique stories about interesting places.

Kelp Forest At Monterey Bay Aquarium
Kelp Forest At Monterey Bay Aquarium

Anyone who is interested in learning about aquatic life should visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California. It is located where a sardine cannery that was once part of Cannery Row stood. Millions of people go to visit the huge aquarium each year. It's a place where people can see thousands of animals and plants. Hundreds of different animal species are on display. The Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBA) is able to provide such a great habitat for its plants and animals because of the fresh ocean water from Monterey Bay that is constantly put into it.

Visitors In Monterey Bay Aquarium
Visitors In Monterey Bay Aquarium


The desire to build an aquarium around Monterey Bay was a dream for decades. As early as 1914, an aquarium was proposed by the city council, and a bond issue was sponsored. Various locations were suggested, including the basement of the Pacific Grove Museum, and the Point Lobos State Reserve. The MBA was opened in 1984. The initial financial backer was David Packard of Hewlett-Packard. The motivation to build the MBA was to honor a marine biologist named Edward Ricketts and his work. Ricketts passed away in 1948. His former home and laboratory are located next to the current MBA building. He was also the inspiration for the character “Doc” in the John Steinbeck novel “Cannery Row.”

Monterey Bay Aquarium Building
Monterey Bay Aquarium Building

Aquarium Design

The MBA has been constructed to pump thousands of gallons of seawater each minute from the Monterey Bay. This is done all day and night. The seawater is used in over 100 tank exhibits. During the day, the filtration of the water is designed to provide clear viewing. At night, the seawater pumped into the MBA brings in plankton as food. The waste water in the aquarium is then pumped back into Monterey Bay. This design is what makes the MBA ecologically part of the surrounding ocean. It permits organisms like giant kelp to grow and thrive.

Ocean's Edge At Monterey Aquarium
Ocean's Edge At Monterey Aquarium

Ocean's Edge Wing

This is the centerpiece of the MBA. It is over 27-foot-high and is a tank that holds more than 332,000 gallons. The Ocean's Edge Wing enables people to watch California coastal marine life. This is first aquarium in the world to successfully grow live California Giant Kelp. People are able to watch the many creatures that exist within the kelp forest. The Ocean's Edge Wing can be seen at a number of levels in the MBA.

Kelp Forest At Monterey Bay Aquarium
Kelp Forest At Monterey Bay Aquarium

Kelp Forest

This is the first exhibit in the world to provide a living kelp forest for viewing by the public. Water from Monterey Bay is provided and a surge machine is located at the top of the exhibit. The surge machine provides the steady motion in the water that kelp need to survive. The top of the tank is open. This is done to maximize the tank's exposure to the sun during daylight hours. This situation imitates the conditions found in Monterey Bay. The display contains over 79 different species of growing seaweed. Some of this living seaweed was not planted there. It entered the exhibit from Monterey Bay. Experts estimate the kelp in this aquarium grows approximately four inches each day. Divers go into the tank and trim the kelp one time each week. The windows for this exhibit are over 15 feet high and 8 feet wide.

Open Sea Gallery At Monterey Bay Aquarium
Open Sea Gallery At Monterey Bay Aquarium

Open Sea Gallery

The Outer Bay wing of the MBA was opened in 1996. It provides an exhibit that displays the open-water ecology located in the outer bay of Monterey Bay. It has over a million gallons of water and the largest single-pane windows in the world. Major renovations took place on the Open Sea Gallery starting in 2010. The renovations were completed, and it was once again available for public viewing in 2011. This includes a school of thousands of anchovies swimming against currents provided in the exhibit. At one time, this fish provided much of the economy for the Monterey area. Recent additions to this exhibit include juvenile sea turtles, multimedia experience

Jellyfish Exhibit At Monterey Bay Aquarium
Jellyfish Exhibit At Monterey Bay Aquarium

Jellyfish Exhibit

The MBA opened an exhibit called “The Jellies Experiences” in 2012. It provides visitors with a chance to view live jellyfish and participate in interactive experiences. There are jellyfish in the exhibit found in no other aquarium in the world. People can see flower hat, comb, blubber and other types of jellyfish. People who see this exhibit are able to wave their arms and create a fluorescent display of jellyfish and corals. They can also create a digital jellyfish. When this is done, they can then put their digital jellyfish into a virtual ocean filled with digital jellyfish created by other visitors. They can then become part of a kaleidoscopic image.

Penguin Exhibit At Monterey Bay Aquarium
Penguin Exhibit At Monterey Bay Aquarium

Penguin Exhibit

The MBA has a penguin exhibit in the Splash Zone family gallery. It is a place where people can also watch sea otters. It contains over a dozen Black-Footed Penguins. Their enclosure is located on the second floor of the gallery. The Black-Footed Penguin lives in the water located off of southern Africa. When people hear them, they feel these penguins sound like a donkey. This is why they are sometimes referred to as “jackass” penguins. This species has a noticeable pink patch of skin above its eyes. This skin helps these penguins adapt to changing temperatures. When it get hotter the blood flow to the skin above the eyes increases. This cools the penguin. It also causes this skin to become darker.

Giant Green Anemone
Giant Green Anemone

Rocky Shore Exhibit

This enables people to see creatures that live with the advances and retreats of ocean tides. People can see everything from California mussels to Monkeyface eels, Acorn barnacles, Giant green anemones and more. It's even possible to see a barnacle stand on its head while waving a feather like leg in the current.

Tentacles Exhibit At Monterey Bay Aquarium
Tentacles Exhibit At Monterey Bay Aquarium

Tentacles Exhibit

Tentacles: The Astounding Lives of Octopuses, Squid and Cuttlefishes is an exhibit at the MBA that opened in 2014. People are able to see at least 24 different living species at this exhibit. Visitors have been able to witness some of the world's largest cuttlefish as well as some of the smallest squids. People can see the Pacific octopus, Wunderpus, Hawaiian bobtail squid and more. The MBA is also able to provide species never before been seen in an aquarium exhibit. This includes deep-sea octopuses, sea squids and more.

MBA Research

The MBA staff actively performs field research in a number of aquatic species. This includes Pacific tuna, sea otters, sharks and more. The species populations, patterns of migration, food are all carefully studied. The goal is to learn what these aquatic animals face in the wild. This research conducted by the MBA has been ongoing for a number of years. It has provided important insights into the habitat of aquatic species.

Exhibit At Monterey Bay Aquarium
Exhibit At Monterey Bay Aquarium

Visitor Contact Information



886 Cannery Row

Monterey, CA 93940




Daily from 9:30 am to 6 pm

Location Of Monterey Bay Aquarium

886 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA 93940:
886 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA 93940, USA

get directions


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