The Outer Bay at Monterey Aquarium, CA

San Francisco, California

MONTEREY BAY AQUARIUM (831) 648-4800. Huge new exhibit - The Outer Bay The Monterey Bay Aquarium has earned an international reputation for sea life exhibits featuring habitats along the shores of Monterey Bay (a rather large temperate-zone bay in about the middle of the California coast). Since its opening in 1984 the beautifully and humanely presented Aquarium has been a favorite destination for Californians and out-of-state visitors as well. Plan to spend some time inside - you'll be glad you did. The vast new wing devoted to the mysteries of the open ocean opened on March 2, 1996. THE OUTER BAY GALLERIES are the first in the world to present the life of the open ocean on this grand scale. Some species are being included in an aquarium exhibit for the first time ever. The centerpiece is the Outer Bay, a million-gallon indoor ocean that showcases the sunlit blue waters where Monterey Bay meets the open sea. With more water than all current aquarium exhibits combined, the Outer Bay is home to sharks, ocean sunfish that can be 10 feet tall and weigh 3,000 pounds, green sea turtles, barracuda, and schools of tuna and other fast-swimming open ocean fishes. Visitors view the 3-story, 35-foot-tall exhibit through the largest window in the world: an acrylic panel 14-1/2 feet high, 54 feet long, weighing 78,000 pounds. Pioneering work by staff biologists helped create a permanent gallery of delicate jellyfish - the largest collection of these graceful oceanic drifters in the nation. Other Outer Bay galleries feature a bank of microscopes and live exhibits that introduce visitors to the intricate life forms that exit as plankton - the abundant base of a food web that supports all life in the sea. Exhibits also address key issues in marine conservation, and offer special activities for young children and families, centered around the ways that whales and other marine mammals have adapted to life in the ocean. In summer, the aquarium offers an expanded lineup of family programs and activities, including hands-on Discovery Stations about sharks and coastal birds, tide pool talks, auditorium programs and dress-ups for kids. There are always surprise additions to the tours, so expect something new and different at any time. The non-profit aquarium is located on historic Cannery Row, just 120 miles (200 km) south of San Francisco. It is open daily except Christmas from 10am to 6pm and from 9am during holiday periods and summer months (June 15 to September 2). Ticket sales close at 5:30pm.

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