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Travel Ideas: Monterey Bay Aquarium

By: Tracy Grinnell

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Do something out-of-this-world with your entire family on your next vacation: Take a trip to a land unlike our own and discover exotic habitats and life forms without leaving the country. Today, it's truly possible – with a trip to an aquarium, of course!

An Aquarium, You Say?

The Monterey Bay Aquarium, in Monterey, Calif., is one of many outstanding aquariums across the nation where visitors can travel to new heights of knowledge by exploring new depths. The aquarium was developed to bring us closer to our marine world and inspire conservation of our oceans. Ranking among the world's most diverse and spectacular marine regions, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is at the heart of the largest protected marine area in the Northern Hemisphere. With more than 200 galleries and exhibits devoted to the diverse habitats of Monterey Bay, this wonderful water world is known for satisfying the deep-sea curiosity of children and adults alike and has enchanted and educated more than 30 million visitors with exciting and innovative ways to look at our oceans.

Exciting Exhibits

The aquarium's many exhibits showcase the "rich and varied life of the marine habitats of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary" and "life in the oceans beyond the bay" – from seashore to seafloor. Its four largest exhibits are the Outer Bay (1 million gallons); the Kelp Forest (335,000 gallons); Monterey Bay Habitats (326,000 gallons); and Sea Otters along the Rocky Coast (55,000 gallons). The aquarium also boasts the world's largest jellyfish gallery and largest living deep sea exhibits.

Two special exhibits offered at the aquarium, Splash Zone: Rock and Reef Homes and Mysteries of the Deep are designed with the interest of all family members in mind. Splash Zone: Rock and Reef Homes will delight kids and adults alike by providing all with a first-hand look at two different – but equally important – marine habitats and the animals that call each home. You'll get to see how, for example, rocky shore creatures – such as starfish, sea urchins and penguins – live compared to coral reef creatures – such as sharks, leafy sea dragons and moray eels. Mysteries of the Deep pieces together the puzzle of the mysterious deep-sea realm of Monterey Canyon, which is just offshore Monterey Bay. This exhibit spotlights 40 species of animals collected from the canyon, making it the world's largest collection of deep-sea animals.

For 2001, two additional exhibits have been added. Saving Seahorses featuring six different seahorse species and Vanishing Wildlife: Saving Tunas, Turtles and Sharks that allows a ground floor view into the million-gallon Outer Bay exhibit.

The aquarium's live exhibits include more than 250,000 animals and plants representing 700 species of fishes, invertebrates, mammals, reptiles, birds and plants found in Monterey Bay. Your entire family won't want to miss the daily feeding and dive shows, so check for specific times.

Get the Most Out of Your Visit

When planning your trip, it's important to be prepared with some good get-up-and-go tips to help make your aquatic adventure a smooth one for the whole family.
  • Many aquariums offer online ticket purchasing on their Websites.
  • Many offer family learning activities on their Websites.
  • Most have wheelchair accessibility for the physically disabled.
  • Many have assisted listening devices for the hearing impaired.
  • Many have special site maps in different languages.
  • Many offer extended summer/holiday hours.
  • Many have changing hours of operation and different holiday hours.
  • Many offer special services, rates and exhibits.
  • Most offer discounted group rates, combo tickets and memberships.
    Extra Info!
  • For more information (in California), call: (800) 756-3737. If you're out-of-state, call: (831) 648-4888. You can also access the Website at www.montereybayaquarium.org.
  • Prices: $15.95 for adults; $13.95 for students (13 to 17 or college ID); $13.95 for seniors (65 and over); $7.95 for children (3-12); $7.95 for disabled.

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