AAA Editor Notes
Monterey Bay Aquarium is at 886 Cannery Row. This acclaimed facility houses more than 35,000 animals and plants on two levels of expansive galleries and exhibits. The Open Sea, the aquarium's largest exhibit, explores the open ocean; visitors standing in front of a 90-foot window will see tuna and sharks speeding past, sardines swarming in huge, glittering schools and sea turtles swimming lazily by.
The Ocean's Edge galleries introduce visitors to the central California coast's varied shoreline habitats. The impressive features include a three-story living kelp forest, a walk-through aviary inhabited by shore birds and an indoor/outdoor coastal stream habitat.
Tentacles: the Astounding Lives of Octopuses, Squid and Cuttlefishes, is one of the most extensive exhibitions ever devoted to these endlessly bizarre and fascinating creatures, Tentacles gives visitors a look at such rarely seen animals as the chambered nautilus and the intriguingly named, strikingly striped wunderpus, a species of octopus. Tentacles also features multimedia interactive exhibits and cephalopod-related art.
Viva Baja! features animals that inhabit the coastal regions of the Baja California Peninsula, including green morays, desert tortoises and brilliantly colored Cortez rainbow wrasses. The Splash Zone & Penguins galleries depict a coral reef as well as reef and rocky shore habitats. Residents include blackfooted penguins and seahorses retained from the former Secret Lives of Seahorses special exhibition.
Don't forget the outdoor tide pools, where you can observe crustaceans and other animals that have adapted to a specialized environment characterized by constant fluctuations in currents, water temperature and salinity as well as the dangers of exposure during low tide.
Feeding demonstrations take place daily at the sea otter, kelp forest and penguin exhibits. Aquarium Adventures programs require an additional fee and include a surface SCUBA experience for kids, a behind-the-scenes tour and family-oriented activities.
Note: The aquarium can get very crowded on weekends and when it first opens. To avoid crowds, plan a visit for later in the day.
Food is available. Time: Allow 3 hours minimum.