I've wanted to go to Monterey for about 30 years now. First I heard about the Monterey Jazz Festival and thought that sounded pretty cool. I've been a fan of John Steinbeck's novels (started with" Of Mice and Men" in school) for a long time. After reading "Cannery Row" and "Sweet Thursday" I felt a desire to know the backdrop of some of his novels. Then I started teaching Marine Biology and I show a video about the rescue of sea otters "A Sea Otter Story" by the Monterey Bay Aquarium as well as one about behind the scenes at the aquarium "Oceans in Glass". It seemed like a unique and fascinating place. It was on one of these videos that I found out about the aquarium's Dive Adventure for children 8-12. Since my DH and I scuba dive and snorkel, we thought it would be a great way to introduce our son Danny to the sport with danger greatly minimized.
So when we found out that we would be going to California for a cruise to celebrate my Great Aunt Julia's 90th birthday, we decided to head out their early to fulfill my dream of going to the Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBA from here on out) I thought I would share some photos and experiences with my dear sparkfriends.
The first thing we did was visit the sea otters, where a permanent female resident had adopted a pup that was rescued when it was only hours old. Here she seems to be showing the pup how to wind itself up in the (fake) kelp (that's how they can sleep anchored to the kelp and not drift away with the currents) or to search within its blades for food (forage)
Then we went to the Kelp Forest Exhibit which is amazing because it is the only aquarium in the world that has figured out how to grow Giant Kelp "in captivity". They pump raw seawater into their display, they use real sunlight and a surge machine to create motion, keeping the kelp healthy. They supply the exhibit with the critters 100 feet from the shore, including a small school of sardines which are surprisingly beautiful as they wind their way in and around the kelp, creating figure 8's of shimmering silver. It was mesmerizing. I wish I had thought to take video of it, the still shots don't capture the magic they create in the display.
We then went to see the Giant Pacific Octopus which I have no good pictures of because a flash really bothers her and she moves too fast and it's too dark (for my skills as a photographer). I was however luckier with the sessile (stationary ) organisms. Here are a few cool ones There are a number of sea anemones, you can see their stinging tentacles at the top of the treelike body.
The next picture is a sea squirt which is actually a chordate (close relative) with no backbone
I love these sand dollars (relatives of the seastar)
and the spotted jelly
After seeing about 1/2 of the exhibits it was time for my son's Diving Adventure. We let them know about his ADHD, which is under control when he is medicated, but still can cause problems due to his impulsiveness and lack of attention. They were so appreciative. Apparently many parents hide it as if it were shameful, and there are then safety issues that come up with the mechanics of diving. I must commend them on their patience and understanding regarding their handling of my son. They assigned Andrew to work one-on-one with my son, Danny. He was a real pro, and I can't thank him enough.
Here is a sequence of pictures showing his first dive experience.
Here Andrew is helping Danny get his fins on.
They found a seastar
And a decorator crab
Out of all the kids participating, he was the first one in the water and the last one out...the apple doesn't fall far...
DH said "I'll know this was a success if he comes out of the water exclaiming "Awesome!!!" Here it is...
He loved it so much we let him do it again the next day. I think the young lady who worked with him was named Chris. She was just as wonderful as Andrew. Here are a few shots of his second day diving with Christine
Here is the entire team that worked with Danny over the 2 days. Very positive bunch
Very satisfied 8 year old, looking forward to his cup of hot chocolate
Before the second dive experience we participated in a behind the scenes tour and an opportunity to feed the fish. We also took the time to see some other exhibits. The seahorse display was especially intriguing
Here is the well camouflaged close relative of the seahorse, the sea dragon
Penguins are always a hit
Each day we stored lunch in a locker and ate it on a bench outside. We got a good look at some local wildlife, seals and cormorants
I am not showing pics of the fantastic Open Sea Exhibit because the fish are too fast for me. But the ocean sunfish was AMAZING Okay here's one pic that my DH took, it is the best we could do.
This is a very WEIRD fish. It is the largest bony fish in the world, though this one is pretty small (young) Still, amazing!!
I hope you enjoyed my little travelog, I will try to show some other destinations as well, but this took a long time, so I'm not sure when. Thanks for sharing it with me sparkers, Spark On!!