California Trip Day 9: Monterey Bay Aquarium

Visit date: Thursday August 12, 2021

We had one more trip planned before we headed home on Friday August 13: Monterey Bay Aquarium. Carla and I visited there with her parents back in the 1970s and we’ve wanted to return ever since. We thought the grandkids would love the aquarium and we were right. We bought our tickets a couple of days ahead and headed out semi-early for the one hour drive.

The Aquarium is right on the bay and has a system of using seawater from the bay to supply the fish and other marine creatures fresh water. It’s a working bay and we saw this trawler circling around with its nets a few times.

Fishing trawler in Monterey Bay

The first animal we saw upon entering the aquarium was a bird. Well, it’s a shore bird so it counts. Can someone (Frances?) please tell me what type of bird this is? Thank you Frances Oliver for telling me it is a Black-bellied Plover. It’s great to have birder friends!

Black-bellied Plover. Thanks to Frances Oliver for the ID!

Brian and Marie had been recently and told us we had to see the jellyfish exhibit. Wowsers; they were right. The lighting was exquisite and there was plenty of activity.

Jellyfish exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
Jellyfish exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

And my favorite

Jellyfish exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

I wish I had taken better notes about what types of jellyfish these were. If you know, please leave us a comment.

Another exhibit.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

The kids and grandkids were as enthralled as Carla and I

Jurgen, Cornelius, Henriët and Andrew (with others) checking out the Monterey Bay Aquarium

It was relatively easy to get pictures of the slow moving jellyfish but there wasn’t enough light for me to get good photos of the faster moving creatures.Two things stand out. First, there was a school of smallish fish swimming around the tank; their moves were synchronized and they moved as one. Every once in a while a hammerhead shark would move through the school and they all quickly adjusted to make a big hole in the school for the predator to move through.

The second striking fish were the California anchovies. They are small, slender fish that go around in a school. From a distance they looked interesting, but looking more closely they were fascinating: they have HUGE mouths compared to their heads. They swim along and periodically open these enormous jaws that filter (?) their food. Here is a really crummy picture. Check out the size of the mouth on that little guy on the middle left.

California anchovies.

After a while the kids were ready to do something else so they all headed back to Santa Cruz while Carla and I spent some alone time on Cannery Row – the tourist district built in the area John Steinbeck wrote about it his novel of that name. We found an okay restaurant for a late lunch. I liked their light fixtures; the jellyfish exhibit at the aquarium has captured the imagination of the area.

Jellyfish light fixture at a Monterey restaurant near the aquarium.

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