Monterey Bay Aquarium

Late last year I finally made it to the Monterey Aquarium for the first time. In addition to fish and water mammals, I was happy to see a variety of birds there, including an excellent local injured bird care facility (stay tuned for a future post specifically covering those birds). I hope to make it back soon, because there is so much to see there (I didn’t even make it all the way around in one visit). Here are a few of my personal highlights.

First up, in the seahorse exhibit, was the leafy seadragon.

A leafy seadragon swims at an exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
A leafy seadragon swims at an exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

This master of disguise was quite amazing to watch moving about its tank. I would love to see one in its natural environment to see how well it can blend into surrounding vegetation.

The aquarium had a quite extensive jellyfish collection as well.

Jellyfish move through a water exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
Jellyfish move through a water exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

And of course, no aquarium is complete without many, many fish. Here is a large bony fish (I didn’t catch the species of this one, and he looked rather grumpy so I didn’t bother asking him).

A large bony fish swims in a water tank at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
A large bony fish swims in a water tank at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

One of my favorite fish seen that day was the ocean sunfish, mostly because if its sheer size.

An enormous ocean sunfish swims in a large tank at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
An enormous ocean sunfish swims in a large tank at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

The sunfish is the heaviest known bony fish in the world, with an average weight of 2200 pounds. The largest specimens can be over 10 feet in length, 14 feet across the fins, and weigh up to 5100 pounds.

And of course some birds! Here are two species I’d have to travel to Alaska to see in the wild: the tufted puffin and the horned puffin.

Tufted puffin headshots are possible at an exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
Tufted puffin headshots are possible at an exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
A horned puffin stands alone in an exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
A horned puffin stands alone in an exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

I highly recommend a visit here, particularly if you can get there on a non-field trip week day. Other days can get quite busy. There is a ton to see, and it is hard to beat the beauty of the surrounding coastline of Pacific Grove and Carmel.