Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Weekend at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Yesterday I said that I had taken a bunch of pictures at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, It was a great time there, and the drive down was beautiful. I think that it was good for Dan to get away. The building that the aquarium is housed in is partially recycled from the Hovden Sardine factory. They had to demolish the building, but they kept the boilers that were used to power the plant.

They had a wonderful short video of the factory at work in the 1940's as well as displays talking about the old cannery row that used to be on the shore. I thought it was great that they tried to maintain the architectural feel of the old site while embracing the new functions of the space. To me they totally succeeded in this pursuit.

There were all sorts of animals and marine life there. We went to the outside parts of the museum first in case the fog rolled in early and made it too cold to want to poke around outside. They had a great little display of a native California trout stream. There was even my favorite, a turtle, out sunning itself on a fallen log.

There was a tidal pool simulator as well as other interesting displays of what marine life there was in the more shallow areas of the beaches. Next we went inside and ended up in the kid friendly confines of the touch pools. Dan was not up for it, but I touched some star fish and other marine life. The stingrays, however, were having none of it. They were safely tucked away in the farthest corner from us and refused to swim toward all the people wanting to pet them. We next went into the aviary. That was very neat. The birds were so calm and so used to people that the pictures I took make them look like stuffed birds and not the real thing. They were very calm and preening themselves with no regard for the loudness around them.

After that we walked around some of the deep water tanks. There were tuna and schools of sardines. It was neat to see all the prehistoric looking fish swimming around. Sharks slowly pursued smaller fish, and then one of the huge fish would swim toward the sharks and they would disperse. I could have sat and watched the tanks for hours. One of my favorite fish was the sunfish. Having been raised in a family that took a fishing vacation every summer of my life, I thought I understood what a sunfish was. I had no idea that there was a sunfish that existed in the depths of salt water. When I first saw it, the only thing I spotted was the bottom of its fin. I though perhaps there was some sort of sea turtle in the display somehow, but upon further exploration, this is what I saw:

We took a lunch break and then went into the smaller tank areas after visiting the otters. In one of the small tank rooms, they had this awesome display showing the flat fish that hide in the sand. This tank was my favorite because all of the sea creatures reminded me of Dr. Seuss books and characters.

If you look really close in that picture, you can see some of the fish that hide in the sand and have skin that looks like that sandy bottom. It was easier in the tank because you could spot all these eyes looking around and at you. They also had a tank that contained embryonic skates. They are left by the mother in a birthing sack of sorts. We could see it just hanging out in the membrane of the sack.

From there we found the jellyfish. Jellyfish are my all time favorite, well them and seahorses. I took many pictures of the jellyfish tanks, but these are my favorite pictures. Here is Dan contemplating the big tank at the back of the room:

I really liked how that picture turned out. I think it really captured how everyone looks when they turn the corner and catch that tank. The jellyfish in there reminded me of the Chilluly exhibit that I blogged about. Here is the tank with just the jellies up close.

They really looked like his glass sculptures. From the colors to their delicate tails, I was awed by the intricate action in the water and the beauty of movement. They also had moon jellyfish. I like them as well because of their pearl essence in color.

We then wandered into one of the kid friendly areas. The kelp forest. We did not last long due to the numerous strollers and screaming kids. It was approximately nap time, so I blame the lack of naps for the noise. We quickly moved on from there and ended up somehow at the penguin tank just in time for the afternoon feeding.

After that, we were almost fish watched out. We went into the room where the octopus were kept. They were hard to photograph. There was one that looked like a ghost it was so pale and white. The other one was an orange one. It was the classic looking octopus, and boy was it active. It was crawling all over the side of the glass. I tried to take my best picture in the ultra dark room, and this is what I cam up with:

We ended the day by going to Phil's Fish Market in Moss Landing. Dan and I agreed to not feel guilty about eating fish after the day of watching them all swim around. The aquarium is big on conservation, obviously, so they had many education stations about over fishing and what fish you should try to not eat because they are endangered or the fishing methods are harmful to the ocean. Therefore we also agreed to start making our "smart fish choices" on Monday.

Yesterday was good. I went to the studio for the first class of the new session. We have been on studio break since December, so it felt great to get back to dancing. I do have to say that I miss doing my yoga before class already. I am going to try to somehow start making time for yoga and working out more at home since Ariellah is no longer able to offer the yoga class. I guess I am just addicted to it. I am also realizing how excited I am about visiting my sister and the family. So I think my life seeming to be back in order has made me also realize how much I miss some people. Normalcy does that I guess.

On the plate for today, I want to desperately finish my tutorial. I would really like to have that up and in place for people to experiment with when I am gone in Delaware. I also want to get down to the gym today, but it is already starting to get kind of late. I guess that means I should really get going on the day.

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