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Monterey Bay Aquarium

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is located in Monterey, California. It has been operating since 1984.

The aquarium is operated as a non-profit organisation.

On average 1.8 million people visit the aquarium each year.

It is has been the subject of a number of TV documentaries including Saving Otter 501 and Oceans in Glass.


Mission to the deep

Take a dive under the water using a 360 degree video projection. This experience introduces you to the work of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). You also see some of the strange creatures which lurk deep in the oceans.

Touch Pool

Located in the Sandy Shores & Aviary section is an exhibit where you have the opportunity to pat a bat ray.

Star Animals

Great white sharks

Monterey Bay Aquarium is the only place in the world to have successfully displayed a great white shark. The first long term resident went on exhibit in September 2004 and remained at the aquarium for 198 days before being released to the wild following a territorial bite to two soupfin sharks.

Six more have been housed at the aquarium since. These were at the aquarium during August-January 2006-07, August to February 2007-08, August to September 2008, August to November 2009 and August 2011. Since the 2011 shark no other attempts have been made.

The aquarium is the only one in America to have housed bluefin tuna, ocean sunfish, pyjama squid and Laysan albatross.

Monterey Bay Aquarium





Year Opened


Land Size

1.3ha (3.3acres)

Number of Animals


Number of Species



An aquarium for Monterey was mooted several times from 1914. It was not until November 1977 that plans for the aquarium finally began to come together.

Local residents, marine scientists and members of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation of Los Altos, California came together to create the Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation who would run the aquarium.

In April 1978 David and Lucile Packard provided a one-time gift of $55 million to fund the building of the aquarium.

6 years later on October 20, 1984 the aquarium was opened.

During October 1986 the aquarium was accredited by American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA).

1987 saw the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) founded to carry out research.

In September 1994 the Tuna Research and Conservation Centre opened.

The Outer Bay exhibit opened in March 1996 having taken seven years to build.

An online program called Seafood Watch began in October 1996. It guides consumers on how to make sustainable seafood choices.

In April 2000 the Splash Zone exhibit was opened.

During 2017 the aquarium cultured the spotted comb jelly becoming the first aquarium to achieve this.

2019 saw the opening of the Bechtel Education Centre.

Great White Shark Video

In this video the keeping of great white sharks is explored.

Main Exhibits

Kelp Forest

View the 28ft (8.5m) tall kelp forest which is one of the world’s tallest enclosures. This was the place where Monterey Bay Aquarium cultivated California Giant Kelp for the first time ever. It is the home of a range of fish, invertebrates and algae. Many of these enter the tank directly from the ocean outside through sea water pumped in.

Monterey Bay

Habitats Animals who live right on the aquariums doorstep are displayed in the five different habitats which make up the Monterey Bay exhibit. Species on display include white sturgeon, California halibut, Broadnose sevengill shark, wolf eels, leopard sharks, bat ray, sand dollar and the spiny king crab.

Open Sea

In the open sea exhibit you will be introduced to species such as the green sea turtles and hammerhead sharks, a massive school of Pacific sardines, the elusive ocean sunfish (Mola mola) and flashing mahi mahi, or dolphinfish. This is the largest exhibit at the aquarium.

Sandy Shore & Aviary

On the mud flats you can view birds such as the red phalarope, western snowy plover, killdeer, ruddy turnstone and black oystercatcher as they forage just like they would in the wild. Then travel to the sandy shore where shovelnose guitarfish, leopard shark and bay ghost shrimp.

Sea Otters

Split over two levels this enclosure gives you a view of the sea otters both at the surface and under the water. Most of the sea otters who live here came in as rescue animals and are now involved in helping raise other stranded or orphaned otters.

Splash Zone & Penguins

A colony of African blackfooted penguins make their home alongside species such as the zebra moray, swell shark, clownfish, brain coral, bat star and horn sharks.

In addition to the permanent exhibits listed above the aquarium has a rotating exhibits area where every few years they present a different exhibit.


Monterey Bay Aquarium Website –

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