Our ThinkQuest team toured the Monterey Bay Aquarium with our coach and some family members on January 20, 2001.
“The purpose of Monterey Bay Aquarium is to stimulate interest, increase knowledge, and promote stewardship of Monterey Bay and the world’s ocean environment through innovative exhibits, public education, and scientific research.”
The Monterey Bay Aquarium puts their visitors eye-to-eye with colorful creatures that live in the sea to
playful Sea Otters to delicate jelly fish, powerful sharks, shy octopusses, and colorful giant fish. You can bring the entire family closer to the deep sea life.
The aquarium does research in the following areas: Kelp Forests, deep sea biology, Sea Otters, shark feeding and growth, open sea plankton, pelagic fishes, and larval ecology.
History of the aquarium:
Cannery Row was what people used to call Monterey Bay. The bay is 25 miles wide, and the aquarium is at the southern shore. Back about
1903 people started huge canning companies on the shores of Monterey Bay. Fisherman would catch huge schools of sardines in and
around the bay. In 1945, Monterey Bay had become one of the biggest fishing ports in America. In about 1946, after 60 years of fishing for
sardines, the catches were almost nothing, and the canneries started closing. In 1977, four biologists at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine
Station wanted to have an aquarium built just for Monterey Bay. Seven years later money was donated, and the nonprofit Monterey Bay
Aquarium Foundation was created to get the aquarium built. They used an old sardine cannery, and redesigned it into an aquarium.
Kelp Forest Exhibit:
This is a huge three story high glass tank with kelp growing all the way to the surface. The tank also provides the wave action the kelp needs
with two huge water pumps, pushing three thousand gallons of seawater a minute through jets in the tank. Tthe acrylic glass is 7.5 inches
thick. The kelp in the exhibit reach 100 feet high growing nearly a foot each day. There are lots of fish and other sea life in the exhibit, and you can watch divers as they hand feed fish.
The million gallon Outer Bay Exhibit:
This huge tank is all glass from the floor to the ceiling. When you walk into the exhibit it is all dark, and the tank is lit. You can see huge
sharks, schools of yellow finned tuna, open ocean sunfish, and lots of other fish swimming around. In the ceiling above is a circluar tank as big as the room with huge schools of shiny,
silvery, sardine fish swimming al together in one direction. It was amazing and made us dizzy.
Mysteries of the Deep:
This is the largest deep sea exhibit anywhere. The exhibit is designed for sharks. It is ninety feet long and big enough on both ends for sharks to turn around and keep swimming. The sharks are
well fed so they don’t eat the other fish in the exhibit.
Touch pools, Bat Rays, Sandy Shore, and Tide Pools:
In several of the areas you were encouraged touch sea stars, or a velvety back of a bat ray as it
swims on by. We took pictures of team members holding Purple Sea Urchins, Kelp, and all kinds of other sea life. It was so neat.
Sea Otter Exhibit:
Three sea otters are kept in a 55,000 gallon, two story exhibit area. The otters are fed by the aquarium caretakers three times a day, and the
public can watch. While the otters are being fed there is a tour guide talking to the care taker inside the exhibit, and you can ask questions.
The person in with otters can answer it while you watch. We learned a lot and were able to ask many questions.