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Simon’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Location: Monterey, California, USA

MapOne of Anja’s lifetime ambitions was to visit the Monterey Aquarium and, after a 40 minute drive, we were hammering down the doors to get in!

As well as offering many eye-popping exhibits, the Aquarium has a rich history of conservation, and we were able to get onto a behind-the-scenes tour, which was very informative. We went with five other people who didn’t seem overly interested, but descriptions on how the researchers study Great White Sharks was very engaging.

There are several huge tanks on display, one of which features a number of sea otters, the conservation of which is one of the facility’s specialties. We saw them at feeding time and loved seeing them gambol through the water and, after a chat with one of the keepers, we went out onto the deck to get some sun for a few minutes and take it all in. We even spotted a couple of otters out in the bay, thanks to the number of free telescopes: no wonder the keeper didn’t seem that impressed that I’d seen one in Carmel…oh well!

Another HUGE tank displays a kelp forest and, as the water is pumped in directly from the ocean, it was a very realistic showpiece. There’s even an artificial tidal and wave system, and the animals and plants there flourish; it was a lovely experience to, again, just sit and watch!

There are jelly fish exhibits, coral reefs (reeves?) and touch pools, and there’s even a number of African penguins there too. Anja didn’t know any of them, so they must have been out of towners…

Experiencing mild sensory overload, we drove back to Soquel with one ambition ticked off…