This morning we walked from the fairgrounds, which was 3.7 miles one way, to the Monterey Bay Aquarium- one of the best aquarium in the world. My daughter and I were able to take the bus (Jazz- B) back to the fairgrounds when we were finished viewing all the displays around 5:00. Michael had taken his bike but it was too far for us to walk back after 4 hours at the aquarium.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium offers asylum to sea otters that have been injured and they have a chance to be rehabilitated and returned to the wild once they are well enough to be released. The ones on display seem so happy and energetic that it exhausted me just watching all their antics. Ice cubes are a favorite for the 4 girls housed in the main center, and toys with hidden food keep them endlessly entertained. We were informed while watching a short movie about the Monterey Bay Aquarium, that they have to be careful what kind of toys to use because the otters smash them against the glass just like they would do in the wild on rocks. If the toy is too hard, the otters will scratch up the glass so bad that soon viewers would be unable to see the otters inside the enclosure.
The Aquarium also services injured shorebirds, and if at all possible, they too are returned to the wild. One little spunky, male, Snowy Plover had lost an eye because “he was just a little bit of a bully” the volunteer docent explained to us. He would never make it outside again and will have to live out his life in the petting reef display. He seemed pretty happy picking on all the other birds though. I recognized the Black Oystercatcher that I had painted about 3 years ago. He looked older but was having a good day preening his lovely, purple-black feathers.
The scientists are also doing stellar research on jellyfish that are changing our understanding of them. The Box Jellyfish has just recently been able to reproduce and thrive in captivity. One of the local research scientists, a young woman, has developed a food source that is keeping the jellyfish alive for the first time.
The population of jellyfish in the wild has exploded and some scientists believe it may be due to climate change. Jellyfish aren’t as sensitive to temperature changes and it just might be a negative sign for the overall health of the planet’s oceans. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is doing a fabulous job of igniting the curiosity in children and educating them to the wonders of our deep seas.
The introduction of plastic in the 50’s has caused grave damage to the ocean, and there are displays showing the negative effects and what we can do about it by choosing to recycle and reusing plastic products while saying no to plastic bags. We had a fabulous time and spent all day there. Though expensive, I highly recommend a visit to this once in a lifetime opportunity to witness just what is going on below the surface of the water. I promise you, you won’t be disappointed. It is wise to go midweek too, as it can become uncomfortably crowded.