What will we see at the Monterey Bay Aquarium?The Monterey Bay Aquarium has over 200 live animal exhibits and displays over 35,000 animals from over 550 species! You won’t find any dolphins or orcas here though, the only marine mammals which live at the aquarium are the adorable sea otters. Other exhibits include the living kelp forest (home to leopard sharks, rockfish, wolf eels and many more), the Tentacles exhibit (featuring squid, cuttlefish, and octopuses), and the huge Open Sea exhibit, home to green sea turtles, ocean sunfish, pelagic stingrays, scalloped hammerhead sharks and all kinds of jellyfish! You’ll also see a range of marine birds, including African penguins, pelicans, puffins, and Laysan albatrosses. The aquarium also considers the whole bay to be part of its exhibition space, so you should head outside to the decks to see if you can catch a glimpse of wild dolphins, elephant seals, and humpback and sperm whales which occasionally come for a visit.
Can we feed the fish?In general, guests are asked not to feed the animals as their diets are strictly controlled so that they stay healthy. There are two tours available during which visitors can help to feed animals with the help of an expert guide. The Feed the Fish tour takes 30 minutes, is suitable for visitors aged 6 and over, and takes place daily in summer (and on weekends during the rest of the year). The Feeding Frenzy tour is the aquarium’s most in-depth tour, taking 2 hours and beginning before the aquarium opens for the day. Visitors will get to watch the sea otters being fed before serving breakfast to some of the other animals themselves. The Feed the Fish tour can be booked on the day (if there are still spaces) but the Feeding Frenzy tour must be booked in advance.
Can we take photographs?Yes! Guests aren’t allowed to use flash inside the aquarium, but photography for personal use and without flash is allowed. Since the glass tanks will reflect flash, you’ll also take better photos without it! Commercial photography is only permitted if you’ve received permission from the aquarium’s Public Relations department.
How long will it take to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium?The length of your visit will depend on your level of interest. You can walk through the aquarium in about 2 hours, but if you want to take a tour, see a couple of the feedings and talks, and see one or two of the auditorium shows then you’ll need around 4 hours to do everything. Families with small children who need to take breaks might even want to plan a whole day around visiting the aquarium.
Are there special facilities for families?Kids will love exploring the aquarium, and the tanks are almost all designed so that they’ll be able to see the inhabitants without needing too much help from their parents. Children will also enjoy exploring the touch pools, which are available on both floors of the aquarium. Strollers are allowed inside the aquarium, with the exception of the aviary and on the mezzanine floor of the sea otter exhibit. For parents with younger children, the aquarium provides a Nursing Lounge on the second floor, complete with comfortable chairs, a heater for baby bottles, books to distract siblings, and soothing music. For parents who want to get their kids excited about the trip, the aquarium has made two apps based on the Kelp Forest exhibit, one a game designed for children aged 8 to 11, the other an interactive ebook. Both apps are available for iOS and Android devices.
Can we take food with us? What are the dining options?Guests are asked not to consume food and drink inside the aquarium, and seating in the cafe and restaurant is reserved for patrons. You can have your hand stamped and reenter the aquarium later, so feel free to wander to one of the nearby picnic sites overlooking the ocean and returning once you’re done. There’s also a Cafe, coffee bar, restaurant (with great views).