Last Updated on August 11, 2020 by Janet Frost
“Finding Nemo” fans understand the trauma of captured tropical fish destined for aquariums. Avid scuba divers are also quite disdainful of sea life in captivity. The difference between seeing something free in its natural habitat versus caged behind glass is immense. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is world renowned for its ocean conservation and education. Ocean conservation strikes a chord for most scuba divers. We wanted to support an organization doing this important work, however we were still skeptical of viewing ocean wildlife through glass windows. The Monterey Bay Aquarium deserves all the rave reviews. What we found was, the Monterey Bay Aquarium inspires!!!
Let’s Go Learn Things at the Monterey Bay Aquarium…
Monterey Bay Aquarium Inspires
“The mission of the nonprofit Monterey Bay Aquarium is to inspire conservation of the ocean.”
To inspire is a big and glorious goal. Such a goal is why the Monterey Bay Aquarium is cool. The Aquarium inspires through several programs; exhibition, education, research, and policy guidance, all directed towards Ocean conservation.
Monterey Bay Aquarium inspires through its Exhibits
The Aquarium is laid out by habitats and ecosystems.
Every exhibit carefully crafted to present a pristine and accurate peak into an ecosystem. There are fan favorites, recognized by the crowds around their windows. The Kelp Forest is front and center. The swirling, intensive experience of the 90ft Open Sea exhibit was also mind-blowing.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is also cool because of its building and location. The building, Hovden Cannery an active sardine cannery from 1916-1973, perches half over the water of Monterey Bay and half on the popular Cannery Row street. The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s location directs the focus of the exhibits heavily on the waters off the coast of California. The aquarium pumps actually circulate water directly from the bay into the tanks and back out, making it literally a part of the Bay ecosystem.
My Favorite Inspirations
Even scuba divers need inspiration to conserve our oceans. The truth is, I will never dive with penguins, I may never dive in a kelp forest and my brief trip to Palau may be the one and only time I ever dive with anemonefish (Nemo!). But I still love them, love seeing them, and love that a big wonderful organization like Monterey Bay Aquarium is studying how to protect them. How many of the crowds visiting the Aquarium will get to dive with these precious resources? Probably a very small percentage, but how many fell in love with the Ocean thanks to Monterey Bay Aquarium?!
How many may have been inspired to find their calling in the oceans?
I truly hope to one day dive the kelp forests off the coast of California. However, it is cold water diving and my current equipment is not well suited for that environment. The Kelp Forest exhibit at Monterey Bay Aquarium offered me a glimpse of that unusual underwater habitat. The Monterey Bay Aquarium leads the world in kelp research and how to keep it alive in a tank. They have discovered that the water (directly form the Bay) most be constantly moving in order for the kelp to survive.
The tank looms 28 feet tall with huge kelp fronds swaying in the current. Behind the kelp lurks Leopard sharks and wolf-eels. Schools of Pacific Sardines and Northern Anchovy dart through the maze like silver arrows. The exhibit bustles with life.
Check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium
Kelp Forest Cam to see this ecosystem live.
Octopus are wily shape-shifters in the wild, changing color and shape as they scoot along the rocky bottom. Over the years, we have seen a few while diving but never anything like these massive Giant Pacific Octopus. Relaxed and non-threatened, they undulated across the glass delighting the crowds. See the Aquarium’s Octopus page for all the fascinating details.
It requires a sharp eye and perfect conditions to capture an underwater shot of the tiniest of sealife. These sea horses and sea dragons have escaped my underwater camera. But check out this knight in shining armor and his dragon at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
I flew all the way around the world to see anemonefish, better known as clownfish. They come in a variety of oranges and yellows with bright contrasting stripes. They live symbiotically with anemone. When we dove in Palau we found the anemones as spectacular as the clownfish. They also are very hard to catch in a great photo. The anemone wave their glowing tentacles while the clownfish darts in and out warning you off. The Monterey Bay tank boasted hundreds of clownfish strutting their colors.
Finally, the Jellyfish. Jellyfish mesmerize me with their surreal motion. I mentioned our trip to Jellyfish Lake in Palau in an earlier post. The jellies at the Monterey Bay Aquarium are every size and color. I think it is hard for visitors to even believe they are real. Next to the jellies’ display a research volunteer was explaining jellyfish procreation. This little sex-ed under a microscope was fascinating. The docent clearly showed her excitement sharing the details. Every staff member at the Monterey Bay Aquarium is cool.
Monterey Bay Aquarium Inspires through Education
I love the concept of life-long learning. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is totally committed to ocean education. It is impossible to not learn something new about the ocean with every visit to the Aquarium. But they go way beyond teaching through their exhibits. The Monterey Bay Aquarium provides vast resources for teachers and their classrooms. They also provide education to the general public via the digital world. Their website shares live webcams, bios and pics of hundreds of ocean celebrities, research results and details of marine careers.
Monterey Bay Aquarium Inspires through Ocean Conservation
The Monterey Bay Aquarium explains their work in conservation as three-pronged:
Research, Policy and Seafood Watch.
Let’s go learn things about Ocean Conservation at the Monterey Bay Aquarium…
Scuba diving over the last 15 years transformed us into eco-aware ocean lovers. That is why the Monterey Bay Aquarium is cool to us. Our first encounter with the Aquarium conservationism was through their ground-breaking Seafood Watch program. The program started in 1999 and evolved into the most respected source of evidence-based information about the purchase and consumption of seafood. Directing businesses, individual consumers, fisheries and aquaculture towards sustainable decisions and policies.
The science behind the Monterey Bay Aquarium is unparalleled. They focus on areas of ocean population biology, ocean ecology and ocean wildlife husbandry. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is cool with its blog, Future of the Ocean, that shares breaking news about ocean health and conservation.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium uses its knowledge and passion to influence policy makers in the California region, the US and even the world. Here is how they explain this vital role:
We work at local, state, national and international levels to advance policies that protect key species like sea otters, sharks and tuna—and address global threats to fisheries and human coastal communities, including overfishing, pollution and climate change.Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation
All human existence depends on the health of our oceans and we are woefully unaware. This strikes me as an overwhelming concept that I am more comfortable ignoring. Where do we start and what actions really make sense? Thanks to the passion and dedication of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, impressive strides are being made to make a difference for our oceans and our planet’s health.
Ocean Travelers Exhibit leaves a lasting Inspiration
Finally, I will close with one of the exhibits that especially touched me. A special exhibit at the Aquarium featured fascinating examples of recycled plastic art. The art conveyed the impact plastic pollution has on migrating wildlife. Thank you to the Monterey Bay Aquarium (which if you haven’t learned by now IS COOL!) for sharing links to the exhibit Ocean Travelers and a podcast illuminating it.