The Open Sea Exhibit was one of my favorite exhibits at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. This is a very big exhibit compared to all of the other exhibits and we returned to the Open Sea Exhibit a couple more times and somehow managed to find things we missed the first time.
The entrance to the exhibit is quite a statement already. If you look closely in the picture above, do you see the man laying down on the floor looking up?
He is looking up at a school of Pacific mackerel. According to the sign at the museum, these fish spend their lives swimming endlessly along the California coast.
Jellyfish OR Jelly Fish OR Jelly?
And this sure was a breath taking start of an exhibit. And then we entered a very mysterious and dark exhibit of jelly fish.
They way the jelly fish are displayed make it look almost as if we were looking into tv screens. You can even watch the daily live jelly cam from the Monterey Bay Aquarium everyday. It’s quite mesmerizing watching the jelly fish slowly moving along with the water currents.
Our first jelly fish of the day is this Purple-striped jelly which are actually found just off the coast of Monterey. They won’t kill people if stung, but it’ll hurt.
The egg-yolk jelly was my favorite. How could these jelly fish look so much like an egg cracked into the water?
Their range seems to be much more broad compared to the Purple-striped jelly traveling from the Gulf of Alaska to Chile in the eastern Pacific temperate waters (the Atlantic and the Mediterranean). Does that mean this is actually a very common type of jelly fish? I’ve never seen it before.
The tentacles look like a big tangled mess of very fine string or thread. At first sight all I can think of was that I would hate to have to try to untangle that.
But these tentacles can actually extend out to 20 feet in length. It only has a mild sting but I guess that’s all it needs to catch other small jelly fish in its tentacles like a spider web.
This is one of many moments the Monterey Bay Aquarium reminds us that we should be protecting the sea life and environment. Did you know that these jelly’s looks like plastic bags to many animals and as we may already know, plastic bags are not edible; egg-yolk jelly is edible.
Lobed comb jelly. This looks….
I need to let Yuntiha take more pictures of me.
The Sea nettle is probably more like what we would imagine what a jelly fish should look like. Human influences in coastal habitats seem to actually be creating good conditions for them.
This was actually a very cute moment when I walked up to the Cross jelly tank (window?). This little boy was pressing the button and actually showed me that when he pressed the button, the jelly fish shows up and then they disappear when he presses the button again.
The clear jelly fish really do disappear in the ocean. And at certain moments they will some how illuminate creating the cross pattern. Are those the tentacles? These guys are much much smaller then then previous jelly fish were were seeing, but they actually travel in large groups; making them obviously seem much larger (like a school of fish).
This was a somewhat fun interactive thing. You can step into a section that is kind of a cut out in wall. A smack of jellyfish projected onto the wall will start swimming around you. It feels as though you are being surrounded by jellyfish with out having to worry about being stung by a jellyfish.
I found that I really could spend a lot of time watching jellyfish majestically swim. They are quite relaxing to watch as they move along with the water currents.
Which of these Jellyfish do you think are the most fascinating and pretty? I’m sure there are so many more different types of jellyfish all around the world! I’m planning to go to an aquarium in Asia very soon (with this fresh in my mind, I can kind of compare!)
Open Sea: Sharks, Turtles, Tuna, etc.
And then as if it wasn’t already dark enough in the jellyfish exhibit, the light seemed to dim down even more as we approached the next part of the exhibit. This is the where we really walked into the “Open Sea.”
As you walk in, there are definitely lots of “ooh’s” and “aaah’s” as everyone saw the size of this tank/exhibit.
When we walked straight up to the glass, Yuntiha immediately told me to look down. This tank can be viewed from the first floor, second floor, and from a balcony viewing area which is pretty much a third floor. We were standing at the second floor.
Below us was a school of mackerel (or are they sardines or anchovies?), swimming in a ball formation. And then suddenly a stingray decided to swim through and all of mackerel remained in their formation and simply made room for the stingray to make his way through. It was quite beautiful to watch.
Each of the different animals and fish just seemed to not mind each other and did their own thing. The sea turtles mainly hung out at the top of the tank.
And then there is the giant Pacific bluefin tuna.
I was quite amazed at the sheer size of the Pacific bluefin tuna. I’ve seen pictures of them from people going deep sea fishing etc., but seeing one swim right by me and actually seeing how giant they really are was quite amazing.
The Pacific bluefin tuna is one of the largest and fastest fish in the ocean.
And then there was the Scalloped hammerhead shark. Compared to the Great white shark that most of us would imagine a shark to look like, the hammerhead shark has a very unique ‘hammerhead’.
The sharks’ eyes and nostrils are at the ‘hammer’ ends of the head; this gives them an added lift to let them make sharper turns (compared to other sharks).
It was quite amazing to see the school of mackerel, turtles, tunas, and sharks swimming together. We spend some time sitting on the balcony just watching them swim.
And I spent a lot of time trying to get some pictures of both the hammerhead shark and bluefin tuna together. Does that give you a perspective to how massive the the bluefin tuna is?
There are few smaller exhibits. Yuntiha was really intrigued by this little loggerhead turtle. This turtle reminds me of the turtle in Finding Nemo.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium also did a wonderful job with an exhibit that highlights the dangers that humans have created in the ocean that hurt these guys.
And as a segway into the next exhibit we headed to the Kelp Forest exhibit. These anchovies are small bait fish and sadly food for all of the other fish on exhibit. “Fresh” anchovies (and sardines etc) are supplied by local fisherman.
Look how awesome these anchovies are as they are swimming with their mouths wide open.