An Introduction to the Monterey Bay Aquarium

The Monterey Bay Aquarium captivates visitors of all ages with its breathtaking marine habitats of Monterey Bay. Providing one of the largest viewing windows of any aquarium in the world with a total volume of tanks reaching a whopping 2.3 million U.S. gallons (8.7 million liters),
along with the first living kelp forest exhibit, this aquarium will not disappoint.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is a short drive from The Olympia Lodge (the perfect place to stay when viewing attractions from Big Sur to Moss Landing. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is located at 886 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA 93940, and is open most days from 10 AM to 5 PM. Check with the Aquarium for final confirmation.

A look inside the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium Animals

Some of its colorful inhabitants include:

(SOURCE: Monterey Bay Aquarium)

Bluespotted jawfish
Opistognathus rosenblatti
This colorful fish keeps busy digging, building and remodeling its den, using its mouth to shovel and arrange sand and bits of coral. Then it hovers near its home looking for predators and prey.

Cortez rainbow wrasse
Thalassoma lucasanum
Wrasses are usually the most abundant and conspicuous members of coral reef communities. Tropical wrasses like this one are distinguished by their brilliant coloring.

Desert tortoise
Gopherus agassizii
This small, slow-moving tortoise is fortified with distinctive scutes (thickened plates) on its domed shell and stocky, scaly feet with long nails. It uses its front claws to dig deep underground burrows to escape the desert heat.

Golden trevally
Gnathanodon speciosus
Bright yellow as juveniles, and gold and silver as adults, this species uses its extendable jaws to suck out prey from sand or reef. Juveniles usually form large schools and follow bigger fish and even jellies.

Selene sp.
Easily recognizable by its super-slender silhouette and steep profile, this pelagic fish also has an exaggerated dorsal fin. The slim silver fish confuses predators by facing toward them and almost disappearing.

Mountain kingsnake
Lampropeltis zonata agalma
This beautiful and harmless snake’s coloring mimics that of the venomous coral snake, which might deter predators. If that doesn’t work it can release a smelly musk.

Pacific seahorse
Hippocampus ingens
The only seahorse found off the California coast, it’s one of the largest known species and can grow to a foot tall. It’s a “vulnerable” threatened species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Green moray
Gymnothorax sp.
This is the classic moray eel of most people’s imaginations: long, lean and green. It lives inside rocky crevices and usually hunts at night, relying on its sense of smell to find prey.

Staghorn hermit crab
Manucomplanus varians
This crab makes its home in a staghorn hydrocoral, Janaria mirabilis, whose stinging cells offer the crab protection. In return, the hydrocoral gets to move around and filter feed on plankton as the crab forages.


Monterey Bay Aquarium Exhibits

Each day the Monterey Bay Aquarium offers a host of exhibits. Although they vary daily, and you’ll have to confirm for the day you plan to attend, this will give you an idea of some of the Monterey Bay Aquarium exhibit you may see:

(SOURCE: Monterey Bay Aquarium)

Penguin Feeding

When: 10:30 a.m., 3 p.m.
Where: Splash Zone Exhibit
Length: 15 minutes
Learn how we care for our African penguin colony—and what we’re doing to help their wild kin—during this lively program where you can watch penguins feeding underwater.

Sea Otter Feeding

When: 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m.
Where: Sea Otter Exhibit
Length: 15 minutes
See how aquarists train and feed our playful sea otters in this captivating live program. Learn how our exhibit otters help us understand otters in the wild. 

Open Sea Feeding

When: 11 a.m.
Where: Open Sea Exhibit
Length: 15 minutes
Join us in front of one of the world’s largest windows as we feed tuna, sharks, sardines and others in our spectacular Open Sea exhibit. See who’s hungry and learn about the important roles these animals play to keep their habitats in balance. You can even watch the action behind the scenes on our large-screen monitors.

Luna: A Sea Otter’s Story

When: 11:30 a.m., 2 p.m.
Where: Auditorium
Length: 15 minutes
Prepare to fall in love as you follow a single sea otter’s journey—from stranding as an orphaned pup to rescue, care and release by Aquarium staff. Through Luna’s story, you’ll learn about the threats facing California’s sea otter population, and what the Aquarium is doing to help.

Kelp Forest Feeding

When: 11:30 a.m., 4 p.m.
Where: Kelp Forest Exhibit
Length: 15 minutes
Watch a diver hand-feed the sharks, fishes and other animals in our Kelp Forest exhibit while you learn about this unique and beautiful undersea world during a live interactive presentation. 

Project White Shark

When: 12 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m.
Where: Auditorium
Length: 15 minutes
Learn about our work to better understand the life history of these threatened and fascinating ocean predators, as well as the steps we are taking to tag white sharks.

Journey to Baja: A Tale of Three Travelers

When: 12:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m.
Where: Auditorium
Length: 15 minutes
Follow the migrations of three far-ranging animals—gray whales, brown pelicans and elephant seals—that share one common trait: each travels to Baja California, the remote and beautiful peninsula on Mexico’s west coast, to have their young.

Mysteries of the Deep

When: 1 p.m., 3 p.m.
Where: Auditorium
Length: 15 minutes
The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute is using the deep waters of the Monterey Canyon as their laboratory—find out how tools such as underwater robots and other groundbreaking technologies are transforming our understanding of the amazing and bizarre creatures that call the deep sea home.

Behind the Glass

When: 4 p.m., 4:30 p.m.
Where: Auditorium
Length: 15 minutes
This short film takes you behind the scenes at the Aquarium to find out how our staff care for more than 40,000 animals and plants.