The Monterey Bay Aquarium is the largest and most popular aquarium on the American West Coast and one of the most technogolically innovative anywhere. Linked directly to Monterey Bay, the aquarium has a unique system of pumping water into the aquarium daily to both refresh the environment and provide plankton for food. It also boasts some of the world’s largest viewing windows and the world’s only indoor kelp forest.
In the 1970s, Monterey’s famous Cannery Row, a famous sardine processing facility, was closed down due to overfishing. After being virtually abandoned for about a decade, the city of Monterey put the land to new use by building a state-of-the-art aquarium facility there which opened in 1984. This aquarium was arguably the first truly modern such facility, pioneering designs that would later be expanded on by aquariums all over the world.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a 1.2 million gallon environment which is home to 35,000 animals of over six hundred species. The centerpiece exhibit is the Kelp Forest, the only one of its kind in the world, made possible by the constant recycling of sea water through the facility. The aquarium is periodically home to great white sharks, one of the rarest sharks to be found in manmade facilities, though these are periodically released into the wild.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is located on the north side of the Monterey Peninsula approximately 100 miles south of San Francisco. It is open year round from 10:00am-6:00pm (longer hours in summer, shorter hours in winter). The cost of admission is $39.95. Web: www.montereybayaquarium.org (official website).