As a NorCal native I’ve always been prone to thinking the Monterey Bay Aquarium is the best in the world, but now there’s evidence to prove it. This year the aquarium, which opened in 1984, was voted the best aquarium in the world in the TripAdvisor Reader’s Choice Awards.
On a recent visit I rediscovered the many reasons why this beloved aquarium is world-renowned and deepened by knowledge of the creatures of the ocean’s deep. How many of these ten facts did you know before visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium?
10 Facts You Didn’t Know About Sea Life Before Visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium
1. Not all mammals live on land
Stretching from San Francisco to south of San Simeon, Monterey Bay is part of a National Marine Sanctuary that stretches nearly 5,300 square miles. In additions to hundreds of species of sea life, more than 30 species of marine mammals call the bay home, including the sea otter and blue whale.
2. Sea anemones can jump
When threatened, the apple anemone can detach themselves from their base and jump, or swim away by thrashing its tentacles. The apple anemone is one of the largest anemones in the ocean and is colorful.
3. The stinging tentacles of jellies can reach up to 25 feet
The black sea nettle is a giant jelly that lives in deep calm waters off the southern coast of California and Mexico. It has pink arms and stinging tentacles than can reach up to 25 feet in length.
4. Bats can live under water
The bat star is a webbed sea star that lives in the kelp forest. They are just one of the many creatures visitors can come in contact with at the aquarium’s 40-foot-long touch pool.
5. Mahi Mahi has an alibi
Mahi Mahi is the Hawaiian, and restaurant name of the Dolphinfish. These sleek fish can swim up to 40 miles per hour and grow four feet in their first year of life.
6. Kelp plants grow an average of four inches a day
At 28 feet, the Kelp Forest here is one of the tallest aquarium exhibits in the world and requires underwater grooming by scuba divers on a weekly basis. It is home to leopard sharks, rockfish and red octopus.
7. Sea otters live in loose-knit groups called rafts
Unfortunately, when sea otter pups get separated from their groups it is near impossible for them to survive on their own. Thanks to rescue efforts, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has saved 501 otter pups since beginning a sea otter rescue program in 1984.
8. Sand dollars have fur
Live sand dollars are covered in cilia, or tiny hairs, that help them to catch any food that passes by in the water.
9. More than 2,500 Moon jellyfish have gone to outer space
The moon jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium may not travel so far as those aboard the space shuttle Columbia in 1991, but staff do take the baby moon jelly fish for daily walks.
10. It’s imperative to keep your clothing on around an octopus.
Yea… these guys aren’t such big fans of nudity.
Where to Stay in Monterey Bay
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Note: San Francisco Travel provided me with complimentary admission to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.