Experience life under the sea at Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium is home to 35,000 creatures from over 550 species, which fill 34 major galleries.

By TERESA HAMMOND

Sea turtles, sharks, otters and jelly fish can make for the perfect day trip or overnight getaway for 209 dwellers.

As clouds begin to clear and blossoms begin to bloom, allergy sufferers are bound to find great reprieve, as well as beauty, on the coast at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Located to the west of Highway 1 and at the south end of Monterey’s popular Cannery Row, the aquarium hosts over 175,000 square feet of exhibit and public areas. Including ocean view decks, the total square footage climbs to over 200,000 square feet of ocean wonderment for all ages.

Its breathtaking views both inside and out has made it commonly known as one of the best of its kind in the U.S. and some would argue the world. The massive space is so impressive, it served as the aquarium inspirations for the hit Disney/Pixar movie “Finding Dory.”

First opened in October of 1984, the aquatic wonderland averages 1.9 million visitors per year, with a record high number of 2.4 million. The non-profit was initially opened thanks to financial backing by tech mogul David Packard, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard.

The 886 Cannery Row, Monterey location sits on the site of a former sardine cannery. It currently employs over 500 full and part-time staff, as well as over 1,200 volunteers.

The non-human habitants, however, are what keep visitors returning year after year. Monterey Bay Aquarium is home to 35,000 creatures from over 550 species, which fill 34 major galleries.

In addition to the varying galleries, the aquarium also hosts special exhibits as well as a yearly calendar of events.

Dia del Nino will be hosted on April 24 and a World Ocean Day Celebration hosted June 4 and 5. Dia del Nino will feature live Latin American cultural performances, bilingual feeding shows, as well as activities for the entire family. World Ocean Day is slated to be two days of celebrating the global ocean, focusing on the ecosystem that covers 70 percent of the earth’s surface. Visitors will learn about the treasures as well as the threats faced by the ocean and how it can be kept healthy.

Viva Baja is the most recently opened special exhibition featuring unusual animals from land, as well as sea.

“Life in Baja California thrives on the edge,” Senior Exhibit Developer Raul Nava stated in a press release. “We’re excited to introduce visitors to the remarkable animals that live here, and highlight how people in Mexico and around the world are working to protect this extraordinary place.”

The space includes tropical fish, desert animals, coral reefs and lush mangrove forests.

With 200,000 square feet of visitor space it is hard for one to not be impressed by the varying spaces and beauty. The Open Sea is the largest exhibit at the aquarium. Re-opening in 2011, the exhibit was part of a $19 million transformation. It is home to a one-million-gallon structure visitors may spy through a 90-foot window as sharks speed past, thousands of sardines swim in formation as well as sea turtles swimming at leisure.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium also prides itself on educating visitors on protecting the ocean, its inhabitants and waste reduction. In addition, in 1999 Seafood Watch was established to educate businesses and consumers on the purchase of seafood and ocean-friendly sources.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is open daily except Christmas Day. Hours of
operation vary by season. For information on hours, admission rates or to plan a visit, go to www.montereybayaquarium.org.

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