Nerd Adventure! Monterey Bay Aquarium!

5 Aug

So…y’all know how much I love Jellyfish, right? Well, ever since NerdLush HQ moved to Central California, I’ve been trying to get to the coast to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium and enjoy their fabulous jellyfish exhibit. It’s been a few years since my last visit and I recently found out that the Jellyfish Experience exhibit will be closing after Labor Day.

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Hence a day trip to the aquarium!

Come along and share the trip.

IMG_20150803_115602785As I was planning the trip I learned there are Behind the Scenes tours available. Of course I was most excited that there was a BTS Jellies tour! It is recommended that you make reservations for the tours however due to the timing- i.e. though it’s a 2.5 hour drive, who knows what time we’d actually get there… traffic, construction, etc- I opted not to reserve. THIS WAS A MISTAKE. My recommendation is to buy your tickets ahead of time and make reservations for any tours. Especially if you are going on what may turn out to be a surprisingly busy day. What I’m trying to say is that the tour we wanted was Sold Out.

I pouted. Seriously. I couldn’t believe I’d come all this way and wouldn’t get to have the BTS tour. But- at least I’d still see my Jellyfish. Sigh.

Amanda rocks!!

Amanda rocks!!

I have to pause here and throw out major love to Chandra, Allison, and Amanda. Chandra was our ticket salesperson. Saw my pout and chased us down as we entered the aquarium to let us know she couldn’t get us the sold out tour… but she had gotten us a private sneak peek! Seriously? OMG! I may have squeed and giggled insanely and turned into an excited little kid! Then there’s Allison, who met us the Information Booth to explain the situation and check-in with us. Ran into her later and she was awesome at making sure we were having a great day. And finally, Amanda. Who was our private tour guide. She was AWESOME. Not only was she friendly and helpful, but she was incredibly knowledgeable and informative. Amanda took us to see the Moon Jelly tank in the Open Sea exhibit and then took us behind the tank to show us how the tanks work, tell us how the jellyfish are fed, transported, their tentacles are kept from tangling, etc. She explained the circulation of the tanks and even why some jellyfish end up lying on the bottom. Then she ended our adventure by leading us down to the Jellyfish Experience to show us the Fire & Ice tank, explaining that jellyfish are not usually put in tanks with others jellies because their sting will end up hurting the weaker one, but it doesn’t effect family. The jellies in the Fire & Ice tank are different species but they are close enough in family that they can share a tank without hurting each other. Beautiful creatures. Amanda left us there after pointing out the “make your own Jelly” station… which I promptly did. Many thanks to Amanda especially, but all three ladies for helping turn my frown upside down and making this visit to the aquarium one to remember!

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backside of the moon jelly tank

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jelly tank circulation diagram

I should also point out… the Monterey Bay Aquarium opened in 1984. I remember coming to visit just a year or two later with my third grade class. So this has been one of my favorite places since I was a little kid!

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Octopus hiding in a corner

Continuing on with our adventures we completed the Jellyfish Experience and visited the Tentacles exhibit before wandering off for lunch. One thing I loved about the Tentacles exhibit was the opening with all of the art and representations from around the world. Amazing how much detail was put into creations from 2000 years ago! Stunning.

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Moon Jellies

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Flower Hat Jellies

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Big Fin Squid

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Upside Down Jellies

We opted for the sit down dining experience (there is also a semi food court option) of Cindy’s Waterfront Cafe. Another thing that apparently you need a reservation for. I’d been to the sitdown restaurant the last time I was at the aquarium and walked right in, but this time we had to wait an hour. Mind you, we were able to wander off because they called to let us know when our table was ready but still… so… plan ahead! Also, we ordered the campfire cake thing for dessert. IT WAS AMAZING. However, if you have less than 6 people, make friends with the table next to you because this thing is HUGE and full of sugar. So good though.

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look at all that marshmallow!

While we waited for our table we stepped outside onto the deck to enjoy the cool breeze and sit down. It was a little warm/humid inside the aquarium. Outside we were able to watch a couple humpback whales enjoy a meal. Absolutely amazing.

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After lunch we finished the Open Sea exhibit, which is worth it just to see the huge aquarium- especially if the hammerhead sharks are being playful bullies and chasing the fishies. Then we moved back across the aquarium to the Kelp Forest and touchpools and penguins and all of the other staples of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

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Kelp Forest

I have to share a mini rant though- parents, I am a big fan of letting your kids have freedom and independence, however if your child is running around, not looking where they are going, and banging on tanks… perhaps they aren’t ready and maybe you should try parenting some more. And seriously, many of the exhibits are dark for the animals and I overheard several parents and kids not being able to find each other… that doesn’t seem safe to me. End of mini-rant.

All in all it was a lovely day at the aquarium. However, I’m still sad that I’ve never gotten to see George and Gracie- they always seem to be out saving the world when I visit.

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Sand Dollars

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Jelly breeding

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Fire & Ice Jellies

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Anchovies? Sardines? Millions of fishies!

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I see you there, Mr. Shark

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Moon Jellies

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Medusa jellies

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Purple Striped Jellies

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getting a little tangled…

 

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