Monterey is home to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. This is where we spent most of our second day (read our story below). The aquarium has hundreds of displays including a huge tank with large tuna fish, sun fish and sharks. Another aquarium of over 8 meter deep shows a kelp forest, with a scuba diver feeding the fish. Other displays show a giant octopus, playful sea otters and many types of jelly fish.
Don't miss this if you are near Monterey. For more information visit the website of Monterey Bay Aquarium.
We woke up not so early in the morning. After checking out of the small hotel we drove the car to the pier and then followed the sign board to the Monterey aquarium which was sitting right next to the beach. There was plenty of the parking space for the car near the aquarium. We walked following the signboards again to the very big building. Few people were queuing to buy the ticket at the reception. With the ticket you will get the visitor map which is very helpful providing details of the building. Then you are ready to enjoy the show. But one thing you should not forget is to prepare your camera with a fully charged battery. Camera and video were allowed in the aquarium, but no tripods or monopods are permitted. I had 2 cameras with me but … we forgot to charge them, which was the very big mistake of this holiday. That is the reason why we don’t have more nice photos to show you.
Anyway, this aquarium comprise with 2 floors. We began with the exploration on the first floor by seeing the sea otters swamp through the hole under water. Some were sleeping and lying on their back floating in the water. Some were playing with toys. There is information about all the animals and we learned that sea otters have the thickest fur in the animal kingdom. They have from 250,000 to a million hairs per square inch. This insulates them and maintains the warmth in the old water. It is this thick fur that led to their being hunted to near extinction some years ago.
Then we went to the left wing of the building to see the kelp forest, in the towering three-story exhibit to give you a diver’s-eye view of sea creatures. This amazing seaweed can grow more than 1 meter a day, it is amazing.
The next gallery shows an octopus and it’s interesting to observe how they move. This creature’s skin is funny stuff; when they get attacked they can change the color to defend themselves. I saw they keep changing their color from brown to red, blue, green, yellow, and purple.
Further on is the living exhibition display the composition of the bay habitats of Monterey bay; bird, fish, sea plant, etc. If you are a child or have a child you would never want to miss the touch pools; all children would love it. I saw many children were smiling and laughing when play with the colorful sea stars; red, blue, yellow and purple. I had touched them and also the turtles they were hard. The sea weed feels like a hard leaf. I liked the anemones, they were very soft feel like a jelly. But the crabs, I never trust them so I think better I won’t try to touch them.
The last exhibition for the left wing of the first floor is called “Mission to the deep” it shows the big waves rolling into the sea. This place was set up on the glass dome so you can walk under it and observe the wave. You will feel like you are under water under and the wave catch you. Many children run and run through this dome several times.
The second floor on the right wing shows the discovery lab classrooms. This room was set like a restaurant and you can order the seafood. In this room you will learn what kind of seafood you can eat and what seafood you should avoid to not cause damage to the ocean.
The next exhibition is the jellies living art. I saw several jellies flying in the water. The blue light in the container makes the jellies look even more fantastic. It gives a good visibility to see the inside part of the jelly and you can see the tentacle moving.
Then we heard that there is a show starting in the next room: the tuna feeding. Many people already were sitting on the stage facing the very big tank which is full with several species of fish. There are many big tuna fish and a very special “monster” called sun fish which you would never ever see in anyplace. These animals are huge and round, with a tiny mouth, and no tail, and they have a very slow motion more like floating. In this gallery, tuna is a main actor they swim very fast especially when suddenly they get a lot of food in front of them.
We left the aquarium at noon, heading north to San Francisco, but still thinking of the sea otter and we often stopped trying to look for them while we drove along the Pacific Coast Highway. At some cliff I saw some kelp floating in the water with some small head sticking out of the wave, but far away and we were hardly sure that they are the sea otters.
But then, at the Santa Cruz harbor, I am very sure that a creature I saw swimming and diving was the sea otter. I was very excited when for the first time I saw them in their natural environment. After observing them for some time we drive further following the beach, but we got stuck at the river mouth instead. It was very cold and windy so I almost got caught by the wind when I step off the car. I saw several of the sea otters disappear underwater and came up with the shell. When I look carefully I saw that besides sea otter there were also some seals. They don’t lie on their back and their nose is shorter than the sea otter. This place is a very good spot to observe the life in nature.
From Monterey we continued our trip to San Francisco. There was now more wind so we caught some fresh air on the beach. In calmer bays we saw sea otters and more seals. Near beach and sand dunes we saw different types of unusual plants.
We reached San Francisco where we had booked accommodation. We actually stayed overnight at San Bruno town. The hotels in San Francisco were quite expensive because a long weekend holiday period. A seafood dinner at Pier 39 concluded this second day and we are ready to see more of San Francisco tomorrow. Goto Day 3.