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Bloviating Zeppelin: Visiting The Monterey Bay Aquarium

Bloviating Zeppelin

(in-ep-toc'-ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Visiting The Monterey Bay Aquarium

For some, this post about the Monterey Bay Aquarium may be pedestrian; I apologize in advance. For those who have not yet attended, I proffer a few photographs illustrating a brief overview. Though I've been many times, I can't visit Monterey and not visit the aquarium; perhaps a gene askew or such.

Tuesday, my wife and I found ourselves one of only a documented three hundred visitors that day. The place appeared almost abandoned yet, on the other hand, it was wonderfully quiet. No yelling kids, squalling infants, no rude elbowing people -- just a host of visitors, of all races and nationalities, enjoying themselves and availing themselves of the various exhibits, videos, pools, tours and tanks. The staff couldn't wait to explain the various tanks and sites. Frankly, it was the finest time I've yet had at the aquarium. Ever. [Contrast this with the summer, when staff indicates the aquarium sees up to 10,000 people per day.]

Above, Toola the Otter poses pointedly (chin on paw) in a fashion heretofore undocumented. MacKenzie, our guide at the otter pool, said she'd never seen Toola in such a contemplative and yet coy and demure mood.
In the kelp forest, all sorts of Big Fish (and some smaller ones too) laze about in the ebb and flow of the recreated ocean environment -- one of the tallest tanks (at 24+ feet) in the world. Kelp in Monterey Bay, by the by, grows up to four inches -- per day. Looking up, you'd think you're in the bay itself. Simply spectacular.
It's 4 pm and that means: feeding time in the kelp forest. A lemon shark attempting to go vertical "nut-nibbling"?
Alphonso the Diver explains the feeding regimen for the various fish -- including sharks -- in the kelp forest. Wearing a full-face mask and connected by a single air line to the surface some twenty feet above, Alphonso alternately sounds like Darth Vader and himself. He and every diver in the facility are volunteers. These positions are so coveted that divers wait for three or more years to be able to clean the tanks, much less feed the fish in public.
Big shrimp. Massive-antenna'd shrimp. Scowling shrimp. You want a piece'a me? Go ahead buddy, stick your finger down here! Heh-heh.
Beautiful, wafting anemones.
A delicate Pacific Seahorse. These creatures seem like little audio animatronic entities or CGI 3D projections. In fact, male seahorses become pregnant and give birth, just like my former Governator.
The wonder of the Monterey Bay Aquarium is that the creatures are brought to life before your eyes -- and, though they live just behind incredibly- and-deceptively-thick acrylic sheets (you'll bonk your noggin or your hand at least once, being fooled by the perspective), the creatures seem as real and as near as if you were diving amongst them.
Outside, the Pacific waves continue to batter Monterey's rocky shores. Monterey Bay sits on the precipice of one of the most sheer and deepest canyons in the Pacific -- transitioning from a few hundred feet and then straight down to roughly 6,000 feet.

Excellent overview of the Monterey Canyon here. And one of the very few places in the world where, should you choose to visit, you will see seals and sea otters and whales and feathered friends in most every shade and stripe. And likely they'll be no more than twenty feet in front of you.

Does the above view look familiar? Perhaps you should check out Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986), wherein the Cetacean Institute was, in fact, the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Ah, memories.

Fair skies, calm seas, cascading swells, azure caps, hissing waves, the Pacific is just that.


[Click on each photo to enlarge markedly.]


Blogger Well Seasoned Fool said...

Beautiful place. I always enjoy visiting and then driving down the coast highway.

Thu Feb 17, 09:30:00 AM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

WSF, yes, Highway 1 is absolutely stellar. As I write this reply on Thursday morning the fog came up into the bay; clear one moment, literally three minutes later packed with fog and beginning to rain. High tide is in now.


Thu Feb 17, 10:47:00 AM PST  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

I so vividly remember the visit that Mr. AOW and I made in 2000 to this aquarium!

I doubt that we'll ever be able to go back -- because of Mr. AOW's disabilities post-stroke. Another of those losses I think about so often. **sigh**

Thu Feb 17, 04:33:00 PM PST  
Blogger Leticia said...

Absolutely stunning and that little otter just won my heart. I love visiting aquariums it is just another example of God's creative work.

Thu Feb 17, 04:46:00 PM PST  
Blogger cary said...

A long, long time ago, before there was an aquarium, there was a line of fish processing plants on that side of that little dogleg corner.

Right behind you in the first photo, if it's still there, is/was a yellow building, clapboard siding, that was at one point in time called Kalisa's. It was a favorite hangout for several of us who were stationed at the Presidio overlooking Monterey. Klaisa's started out as a bordello, with the "business" offices upstairs. Last time I was in there there was a pretty funny comedy/magic act playing upstairs. Downstairs we were all enjoying the last weekend we would all be together - I was reassigned that week, several others graduated; a Marine Staff Sergeant by the name of Ron Garcia was playing the guitar and we were all singing and laughing.

Monterey, and the fisherman's wharf, has probably changed since then.

Ron was killed in Beirut.

Funny how pictures can call up memories in such a fast chain.

Fri Feb 18, 11:41:00 AM PST  
Blogger Old NFO said...

It is truly a treat! :-)

Fri Feb 18, 03:12:00 PM PST  

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