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Why Monterey Bay Aquarium Deserves a High Five

To celebrate 30 years of oceanic wonder and opportunity to learn about the secret world of the sea, the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California had a week of free admission for residents of Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz counties. My co-residential adviser and I decided to bring two van-loads of our residents to the aquarium because as UCSC students, we also had access to free admission.

See all photos from my visit here.

We headed to Monterey today in the rain with 12 residents and 3 RAs including myself. I took tons of photos and enjoyed learning about and observing jellyfish, puffins, penguins, sun fish, sea stars, and ton of other interesting creatures.

It was really crowded because of the free admission, but I was inspired by how many people took the opportunity to visit the Aquarium, which normally costs about $40 per person. Free admission allowed community members and families of all means to visit and experience the wonder of the Aquarium.

Seeing children, teens, and adults of all ages admiring, asking questions about, and experiencing the wonderful creatures of our oceans was awesome. What a great way to engage people with the Aquarium and create bonds with the community. Certainly opening their doors to the community in this way encourages better stewardship of our oceans and appreciation of the wonders of the world right beyond our coastline. While visiting the Aquarium doesn't automatically convert you into an environmental activist, it opens the doors to thinking about these issues. Taking care of the planet isn't just something that people with money should or do care about; the oceans are part of our community, especially as residents of these counties, and we all have a relationship with them through the actions we take to neglect or protect them. It's awesome that the Aquarium created that opportunity for those who cannot usually visit.

Upside-down jellies, part of "The Jellies Experience" exhibit. The exhibit itself was retro/psychedelic-inspired and the jellies were of course totally awesome.

The Aquarium has a nice blend of awe-inspiring creatures, information, and displays, as well as information about the necessity of better conservation, stewardship, and regulation to protect these animals and their watery ecosystems. There was an entire exhibit about tuna and other fish that are overfished for consumption. It urged visitors to be more mindful consumers and abide by the Seafood Watch guide that the Aquarium produces and updates each year. In the water tank exhibit in that room enormous tuna were swimming around, a real-life reminder of the animals affected by our food choices. The display also provided solutions to other problems, like shrimp nets catching sea turtles and seahorses, and other problems associated with how we catch our fish and in what quantity.

One display that stood out to me the most was a graphics-based video showing how driving and industrial emissions release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and how this then enters our oceans. It was essentially showing ocean acidification, but it didn't need to use any words to describe what was happening to the creatures in the oceans. I found it particularly eye catching, and it took a complex concept and made it simple enough for anyone of any age, in any language to understand.

Here's a short video set to some groovy music with clips from my visit today. At least watch the awesome dancing jelly fish at the beginning!
I had a great time exploring the Aquarium today, and I highly encourage visiting if you have the chance. There is a slight student discount, but otherwise it's about $40 per person. Might be a great gift to give someone! The Aquarium website also has some web cams, information, and activities here if you can't make it out to Monterey.

See all photos from today, along with information about some of the animals, here.

Happy Sunday!
Green Gal


  1. Thanks so much! We always hope our community free days give folks who might not otherwise visit a chance to explore the exhibits and fall in love with the ocean. Thank you for making it so accessible for UCSC students!


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