Showing posts tagged as "monterey"

A Look at Our “Largest Exhibit”

The recent sighting of a pod of orcas created quite a stir here at the Aquarium. So we wondered: What else can you expect to see off our decks? To find out, we asked the folks who know best: our expert guide staff. They’re fond of telling people that the bay is the largest and most dynamic exhibit at the Aquarium!

It’s common to see seals, sea lions, sea otters and pelicans, but below are a few species you might not expect. Of course, we can’t guarantee what you’ll see. It’s nature, after all!

Humpback whales: Here through October as they follow krill and baitfish around the bay.

Blue whales: First sightings just reported (late May)! Gone by early September.

Orcas: Can be seen any time, but more often from whale-watching boats than from our decks. The recent pod was the first seen from the Aquarium in many years!

Risso’s dolphins: Can be seen all year—often jumping clear of the water! They follow squid, so if squid fishing boats are around, watch for Risso’s.

Pelagic cormorants: These birds are starting to fledge their young right under our decks. Juveniles are brown instead of shiny black, and don’t quite know how to fly yet. They make clumsy attempts, then climb back up to their nests and sulk!

Pigeon guillemots: These birds lay eggs under our decks at this time of year and are here until late August. The entire community seems to fledge their young on one night, then leave by the time we arrive the next morning!

Western gulls: We currently have a nest, with eggs, on the ledge outside our restaurant. It will be entertaining to watch the chicks develop and fledge.

You might also see other whales (blue, minke) and dolphins (bottlenose, white-sided, common). Our staff has even seen bald eagles, horned puffins, deer (under the deck), raccoons (on the deck), herons (fishing in the Coastal Stream exhibit), an elephant seal (in the Great Tide Pool) and even an enormous basking shark.

We’d like to know: how many species have you seen off our decks?

Can’t make it to the Aquarium? Check out our live cam!



Have you seen this guy? He’s somewhere at the Aquarium today! Follow on Twitter or Facebook. 

Have you seen this guy? He’s somewhere at the Aquarium today! Follow on Twitter or Facebook

What could be cuter than a sea otter sneeze? Check out this “Otter 501” video, and learn about the forthcoming feature film. In theatres May 11! See it in your area.

Can you find the fish in this photo? We’ve added sailfin sculpins to our Bottom Dwellers gallery. These surprising fish have an unusual dorsal fin that hangs over their heads when they swim. Interestingly, we often team up with other accredited aquariums, and these fish come to us from the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California, where they were hatched and raised behind the scenes.

Can you find the fish in this photo? We’ve added sailfin sculpins to our Bottom Dwellers gallery. These surprising fish have an unusual dorsal fin that hangs over their heads when they swim. Interestingly, we often team up with other accredited aquariums, and these fish come to us from the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California, where they were hatched and raised behind the scenes.

What can you expect to see when our special exhibition, “The Jellies Experience,” opens March 31? Here’s one example: the stunning Mediterranean jelly!

What can you expect to see when our special exhibition, “The Jellies Experience,” opens March 31? Here’s one example: the stunning Mediterranean jelly!

When we asked you to identify yesterday’s close-up photo, many of you got it right: it’s a knobby sea star (Pisaster giganteus). Here are some more photos to give you a better idea of what you were looking at. You can see—and touch—a knobby sea star now in one of our touch pools!

Today’s puzzler: whatizit? (Hint: you can find it on exhibit!)

Today’s puzzler: whatizit? (Hint: you can find it on exhibit!)

Our pioneering surrogate otter mom, Toola, may be gone, but her great legacy continues. Check out this video of rescued otter pup 572, who’s on exhibit with her surrogate mom, Joy! 

Toola, the “Most Important Animal” in the History of the Aquarium’s Sea Otter Program, Dies


The Monterey Bay Aquarium regrets to announce the death of Toola, a female sea otter who was arguably the most important animal in the 28-year history of the Aquarium’s pioneering Sea Otter Research and Conservation program. Toola died early March 3 in the Aquarium’s veterinary care center, of natural causes and infirmities of age.

She was the first rescued sea otter ever to raise pups that were successfully returned to the wild; and was the inspiration for state legislation that better protects sea otters.

Toola was about 15 or 16 years old when she died. She was rescued as a mature adult (5+ years of age) when she was found stranded on Pismo Beach on July 21, 2001. She suffered from neurological disorders, likely caused by infection of her brain by the protozoan parasite, Toxoplasma gondii. The resulting seizure disorder required twice-daily anticonvulsant medication and prevented her release back into the wild.

But she quickly became a pioneer for the Aquarium – on exhibit and behind the scenes. Toola was the first otter ever to serve as a surrogate mother for stranded pups. She raised 13 pups over the years, including one that was weaned from her on Friday as her health declined. Of the 11 pups already released to the wild, at least 5 are still surviving – including the first animal she reared in 2001. Her pups have matured in the wild and gone on to give birth to 7 pups of their own, 5 of which have weaned successfully. Two more of her pups are still behind the scenes, on track for release later this year.

Toola’s most famous pup is the subject of a new feature film, Otter 501, which debuted in February at the Santa Barbara Film Festival.

On exhibit, Toola’s story of exposure to the toxoplasmosis parasite that can be carried by cats inspired then-California State Assemblymember (now Insurance Commissioner) Dave Jones to introduce legislation to better protect California’s threatened sea otter population. His bill, co-authored with current California Resources Secretary John Laird, became law in 2006. Among other provisions, it created the California Sea Otter Fund that has generated more than $1 million in voluntary taxpayer contributions to support research into disease and other threats facing sea otters in the wild.

“Toola was without question the most important animal in the history of our program,” said Andrew Johnson, manager of the Aquarium’s Sea Otter Research and Conservation program. “She showed us that captive otters could successfully raise orphaned pups for return to the wild. She inspired a critical piece of legislation that is helping protect sea otters. And she inspired millions of visitors to care more about sea otters. We will miss her.”

“I will argue that there is no other single sea otter that had a greater impact upon the sea otter species, the sea otter programs worldwide, and upon the interface between the sea otters’ scientific community and the public,” said Aquarium veterinarian Dr. Mike Murray.

Although she was at the Aquarium for more than a decade, she remained a wild animal at heart, said Associate Curator of Mammals Christine DeAngelo – and a strong-willed one, too.

“It was clear to everyone on the sea otter exhibit team that Toola, not me, was really in charge,” DeAngelo said. “When she wanted to work on something in a training session, she’d give me a ‘look’ or vocalize and I’d immediately cave in and do whatever she wanted. Now that she’s passed, we’re in need of another ‘head trainer’ to run the place.”

The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Research and Conservation program has been studying and trying to save the threatened southern sea otter since 1984. With the support of its research, exhibit and policy teams, and the backing of donors and members, the Aquarium has rescued nearly 600 ill and injured otters, raises and releases stranded pups, and has placed non-releasable animals on exhibit in Monterey and at other accredited Aquariums across North America.

The research team plays a key role in field studies of sea otters in California, Alaska and Russia. The Aquarium also works on behalf of policies at the state and federal level that will advance the recovery of sea otter populations.

Just another mollusk? Actually, the black abalone we now have on exhibit has a remarkable history. It was confiscated from a poacher by California Fish and Game, and we’re allowed to display it to help educate visitors about the dangers this species faces in the wild. Due to overfishing and disease, today’s abalone face extinction, and the black abalone is critically endangered, according to the IUCN.

Just another mollusk? Actually, the black abalone we now have on exhibit has a remarkable history. It was confiscated from a poacher by California Fish and Game, and we’re allowed to display it to help educate visitors about the dangers this species faces in the wild. Due to overfishing and disease, today’s abalone face extinction, and the black abalone is critically endangered, according to the IUCN.

About me

The Monterey Bay Aquarium, perched on the edge of a world-famous coastline, is your window to the wonders of the ocean. It’s located on historic Cannery Row in Monterey and is open daily except Christmas Day.

For more information about our animals and exhibits, and to view our live web cams, please visit www.montereybayaquarium.org.

Hours of operation vary by season. Daily schedules and tickets are available on our website or by calling
(831) 648-4800.