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Aquariums: Monterey Bay Aquarium – a Potted History

Related:  San Francisco Zoo / Palm Beach Zoo / Santa Barara Zoological Gardens

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is an aquarium situated on the Pacific Ocean shoreline in Monterey, California on a site that was originally a sardine cannery. 

The aquarium opened in 1984, thanks to the financial backing of David Packard who was one of the founders of Hewlett-Packard, with its mission being to inspire conservation of the oceans. And, as an enthusiastic blacksmith, it was David Packard himself who actually designed and produced several of the exhibits that would come to form the aquarium at his forge in Big Sur. His daughter, Julie Packard, who is a marine biologist, is the current Executive Director of the aquarium.

The aquarium plays host to an annual attendance of 1.8 million visitors and it houses over 35, 000 plants and animals that comprise 623 different species. Some of the marine life at the aquarium includes sea otters, jellyfish, and stingrays and there is even an enormous 11 pound lobster that is over 50 years old.

The design of the aquarium is such that it can pump over 2, 000 gallons of water a minute directly from the ocean water of Monterey Bay both day and night through more than 100 exhibit tanks. 

One of the more fascinating exhibits at the aquarium over the years has been the Outer Bay wing which opened in 1996. From time to time, this area of the aquarium has provided a temporary home to a number of white sharks before they are released into the wild. Tuna, sunfish and barracuda are also housed in this area of the aquarium. 

Other popular exhibits at the aquarium include the Splash Zone and Penguins, the Secret Life of Sea Horses, Sea Otters, Kelp Forest and the Giant Octopus. In fact, the penguins and sea otters came to the aquarium when they were rescued from their own aquarium in New Orleans following the extensive damage it suffered at the hands of Hurricane Katrina.

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