Not too late to make plans! Celebrate children and families at our 13th annual Día del Niño event on Sunday, April 6. Enjoy live Latin music performances, crafts, special bilingual programming and more. Free with Aquarium admission!
Coming in Like a Lion(fish)
March is supposed to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb as stormy winter weather gives way to a milder spring. Now April is coming in like a lion, too – with the latest addition to our Splash Zone galleries.
The new arrival – the captivating and beautiful lionfish – isn’t just another pretty face. It’s an infamous fish that carries an important conservation message.
Far from Home
Native to the Indo-Pacific and Red Sea, lionfish are fabulous residents of their home waters. Unfortunately, they were introduced to waters off the U.S. east coast in the mid-1980s and are now a destructive invasive species from the mid-Atlantic through Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean and into Central and South America.
Cause for Concern
Their fluttering maroon-and-white-striped dorsal fins hide venomous spines that require our husbandry teams to take extra precautions around them. Yet the bigger concern is the threat these fish pose to ecosystems in waters where they don’t belong.
Invasive lionfish have no natural predators outside their home waters, and they compete with native fish for both food and habitat. Lionfish have a hearty appetite for commercially and ecologically important native fish species, and are able to thrive in waters from the shoreline to depths of more than 400 feet. In warmer waters, females are capable of spawning 30,000 eggs every four days, making them prolific breeders and poster fish for invasive species.
The Edible Invader
Our exhibit lionfish were collected from the Florida Keys, where the species has taken a foot – or rather fin – hold since 2009. Absent other lionfish predators, people have adopted the mantra “Eat ‘em to beat ‘em” to encourage consumption of these marine invaders. (They are as tasty as they are beautiful.)
Other than being delicious, what do bacon, honey, ice cream and gluten-free cooking have in common? They are all highlighted topics in our popular Salon Series at this year’s Cooking for Solutions on May 17-18. Members can purchase a one-day pass that includes all five Salons on either Saturday or Sunday.
An Ancient Fascination
Octopuses and their kin, sea creatures known collectively as cephalopods, have grabbed hold of our collective imagination for thousands of years.
We share this fascination as manifested in art, literature and contemporary culture in “Tentacles: The Astounding Lives of Octopuses, Squid and Cuttlefishes.” Highlights include:
- A steampunk-style sculpture made from raised copper and brass with glass in the Japanese technique called “Tankin.”
- Ancient Minoan pottery replicas painted with cephalopod designs.
- An illustration from Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.
- A drawing of octopuses attacking a fleet of ships, depicted as fact by a French naturalist in 1803.
- A highly detailed drawing of cephalopods by famed naturalist Ernst Haeckel.
- Glass models of squid and octopuses by father-son team of Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka.
- A replica of the famous abstract work, The Birth of the Cephalopods, by Mark Rothko.
- A dramatic depiction of a sea of ammonites 73 million years ago.
- The intriguing yet slightly disturbing image of Contessa with Squid by Omar Rayyan.
- Cephalopod tattoo art.
We also commissioned San Francisco Bay Area artist Nemo Gould to create three kinetic sculptures for “Tentacles” using found objects. Gould has transformed a jumble of junk into delightful dioramas that carry conservation messages delivered through a sense of wonderment.
“Tentacles" opens April 12.
Have you ever spied one of our octopuses on an energetic day? Sometimes you have to look hard to see them, and some days, well…this happens! Starting April 12, you’ll get more chances than ever to see curious cephalopods, when our new exhibit opens: Tentacles!
Got questions? We’ve got answers—from animal names to conservation issues. Check out our latest podcast!
Boater Alert: Go Slow Around Sea Otters
With the start of California’s recreational salmon season only days away, we remind boaters to keep an eye out for sea otters and go slow in waters where otters hang out. By observing no-wake laws and being extra vigilant near harbors and kelp beds, boaters can do their part to prevent accidental boat strikes that kill and injure sea otters.
Go Slow In The Slough
The Aquarium, along with Moss Landing Harbor District, Friends of the Sea Otter and other local organizations, ask boaters heading out from Moss Landing Harbor and Elkhorn Slough to protect the resident population of sea otters. Otters in the harbor and slough form part of a research population that biologists have studied for years. Data from ongoing research studies could be important to the survival of this threatened species.
In the past decade, boat strikes have contributed to the deaths of 35 sea otters in California – many in coastal waters between Moss Landing and Santa Cruz. Most boat strike deaths occur in April and May, coinciding with increased boating activity and possibly the openings of salmon (April) and rockfish (May) seasons.
Every Otter Matters
Sea otters face a number of complicated threats to their recovery including disease, pollution and food availability, but deaths from boat strikes are easily preventable when boaters are attentive and maintain slower speeds.
Recreational salmon season opens Saturday, April 5, and runs until April 30. As in past years, volunteers with the Aquarium, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and other organizations will be out for opening weekend, talking with anglers before they launch and caution everyone to slow down.
True Facts About the Octopus
Ze Frank has done it again! His latest True Facts video offers his unique take on amazing octopuses — including giant Pacific octopus that he and his crew filmed on location here at the Aquarium. The video incorporates spectacular deep-sea octopus footage from our colleagues at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, too.
Whet your appetite for more? You can see these incredible animals in person starting April 12 when we open Tentacles: The Astounding Lives of Octopuses, Squid and Cuttlefishes.
*Enter our “It’s Time for Tentacles!” sweepstakes and you could win an exclusive, behind-the-scenes tour of our new special exhibition (opens April 12).*
Enter once each day to increase your chances
You’ll be happy to know that all the planets are in alignment over the Aquarium today. Thanks to James Perdue for capturing this amazing, once-in-a-year photo opportunity!
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