In reality, I’m writing this at the end of July in Indiana. We started our school year this week. Teachers on the 28th and students on the 30th of July. We are on a “balanced calendar” which means we have a short summer, but two weeks off in fall, winter, and spring. It’s a pretty good schedule, in my opinion, but I am not as prepared for the start of school as I usually am. I think blogging will be good stress relief, so hopefully I won’t get too bogged down and quit writing!
So back to California I go… in my head at least. We spent three nights at a hotel near the beach in Monterey. Our first day there was a busy one! We went whale watching, then went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We really enjoyed the aquarium. The exhibits were well done and very educational. Much of the aquarium is dark and the tanks are well lit. This created a bit of photographic challenge for me, but I did get some nice shots.
The kelp forest exhibit
The kelp forest exhibit is huge;at 28 feet tall it’s one of the tallest in the world; and has many different species together in the tank. I love the fact that instead of focusing on individual species, the entire ecosystem is shown. Not all species can co-exist in a confined space without one eating the other, but this seemed to work well!
There were some species displayed on their own, of course, like a big case of anemones.
In the aviary
We really enjoyed the aviary which had a huge variety of shorebirds and one adorable duckling who kept jumping off a little cliff into the water, swimming across, hopping out, going back to the cliff and jumping again. It was quite entertaining!
We went to a large special exhibit called “Jellies”. We had seen jellyfish in the water while we were whale watching, but the boat was always moving too fast to snap a picture. I was happy these weren’t moving away from me quite so fast. The whole exhibit had a 70’s vibe. Lots of fun music and some psychedelic lighting. Austin Powers would have loved it!
Purple-striped jellyfish? Not sure on this one.
Here is another:
The blubber jellies (below) were really interesting because they have so much variety in their colors!
How can I resist one more jelly picture?
Next, we went to the exhibit called “Tentacles”. It was another really neat one. Besides showcasing the actual cephalopods, the exhibit also showcased some interesting artwork. It was cephalopods made from discarded objects, in a style that reminded me of steampunk or Jules Verne. A very cool addition to the animals! These guys were really hard to get good pictures of. Even when they hold still, their skin color crawls across their skin!
Giant pacific octopus, I think
This octopus was looking up at the fish that an employee was dangling for him.
The common cuttlefish (above) is clearly displeased with the name we’ve given him. How could we call this guy “common” when he can change color to blend in with the moving shadows across the floor of his tank? The one at the bottom will have nothing to do with us at all!
We ended up at an area for children. It had lots of interactive play things: coloring, playing with water, etc. There were doors in this room that went out to a large wrap-around veranda on the back side of the aquarium. We had great views from here of the bay.
There were quite a few seals and sea lions sunning themselves on the rocks, many birds, and a sea otter.
I’ve always enjoyed watching cormorants in Florida. It was nice to see them again in the Pacific!
We always laugh at the pelicans. David’s dad loves these birds, so we always think of him when we see them. They are about the least graceful animals in the world, at least while they are hunting. But in California, they seem to fly in large flocks, which I haven’t see so much on the Atlantic coast. They are very graceful flyers!
When we got done at the aquarium, we decided to go back to the hotel, but we went out to the beach to watch the sun set. I didn’t get out the tripod, and I should have. We had learned a lot about the history of Monterey at the aquarium. The aquarium is located along Cannery Row. I didn’t really know what this meant, until I got there. Apparently, the sardine canning industry was centered on Monterey at the turn of the century. (I believe, in the first picture above with the kelp forest, the small silver fish are sardines.) We also learned that the squid industry was booming in Monterey. We were surprised to get to the beach and see squid fishing boats right away. They can be easily identified, because they use bright lights to bring the squid to the surface.
By the way, in California, if you want those fried rings of squid tentacles, you ask for “Squid”, not “calamari”. I wonder why we call them by the Italian name, but Californians don’t.
The boys found a place where a sidewalk was supposed to go down to the beach, but it hadn’t been maintained and erosion had done its work. The step down from the sidewalk to the beach was about 2.5 feet. What do boys do with this? Long jump! I got a couple shots that were funny, considering the lack of tripod.
Discussing Long Jump Competition rules
One last fun shot:
Evan and the ghostly long jump
We finally went back to the hotel and got some sleep before the next day’s adventure: kayaking with otters!