Monterey Bay is home to both natural and pseudo-natural attractions. The bay itself contains forests of kelp which house a plethora of ocean creatures. Some of those creatures, such as sea lions may venture onto land where they can be observed, but most stay in the realm of scuba divers. To make observations a little easier, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has corralled many of the organisms indiginous to the bay and open ocean. These cold, deeper ocean environments stand in contrast to the warm, shallow reef environments of Florida.
The aquarium exhibits approximately 550 species, including otters, sea lions, jellyfish, sharks, octopi, penguins and other birds, seagrasses, corals, giant clams, and many fishes. For a more extensive list, see thier Living Species List (click on the link from the page that loads).
It was the first aquarium in the world to exhibit a living kelp forest. A kelp forest provides homes for hundreds, from gray whales to hermit crabs. Giant kelp influences everything that lives beneath it. The plants stand like a windbreak to rolling waves, and their close-spaced fronds help screen animals from hungry predators. Kelp feeds its entire community. Kelp crabs and snails nibble the live plants, or feed on dead, drifting pieces. Fishes nibble the nibblers in turn. The shade of the thick canopy prevents many algae from growing below, and on deeper, darker rocks, the algae give way to a mossy turf of attached animals. The forest floor harbors secretive sculpins, while schooling rockfishes swim up among the fronds.
In addition to the kelp forest, organisms at the aquarium come from habitats such as reefs and pilings, sandy seafloors, estuaries and sloughs, rocky shores, beaches and dunes, and open waters. Special exhibits include seahorses, vanishing wildlife, and organisms from the two-mile-deep trench off the shore of Monterey.
- Monterey Bay Aquarium (http://www.mbayaq.org/)